Representing & Supporting Shetland’s Fishermen

Record stocks disprove claims of over-fishing
August 18th 2021

Whitefish stocks in Scotland’s waters have doubled in size over the last 20 years and are now at record levels, according to an analysis of data from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

At the same time the amount of these fish being caught (the fishing mortality rate) has declined markedly.

The results prompted an immediate call from SFA executive officer Simon Collins for Scottish and UK government ministers and civil servants to resist the burgeoning and misguided campaign being waged by environmental NGOs on the fishing sector.

The analysis shows that, with inevitable fluctuations, the aggregate spawning stock biomasses (SSB) of the principal whitefish stocks have increased since the early 2000s, with some stocks increasing by much greater amounts.

Meanwhile, the average fishing mortality rates of these stocks have has more than halved over the same period and is at its lowest ever level.

Mr Collins said: “There are more fish in the sea than ever, and our boats are catching less than they have ever done.

“And yet if you listened to the headline seekers in the environmental NGOs, you would think that there was a crisis of over-fishing and climate impacts.

“The simple truth is that like all sectors, we have work to do on reducing our impact on the climate, but we have come an incredibly long way and are already a climate-smart industry when it comes to the impact on stocks, as this research shows.”