Key whitefish stocks in Scotland’s waters have expanded dramatically over the past decade, according to a major new analysis.
At the same time the pressure placed on these stocks by the fishing fleet is at record lows, the study of the latest assessments published by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) concludes.
The work was carried out by Dr Ian Napier of the NAFC Marine Centre UHI for the Shetland Fishermen’s Association.
The results prompted an immediate call from SFA executive officer Simon Collins for the Scottish Government to work together with industry to manage fisheries more effectively after Brexit.
“The figures match what our fishermen are seeing week in, week out, at sea. The overall trend for most of our major commercial stocks could hardly be more encouraging,” he said.
“Brexit now offers Scotland an opportunity to make the most of its marine resources, and we look forward to closer collaboration with the Scottish Government to ensure this happens.
“Countries like Iceland and Norway have already shown what a strong partnership between government and industry can do for sustainability, coastal communities and seafood exports.”
Dr Napier’s study, which looked at stocks such as cod, haddock, saithe, plaice, monkfish and whiting, concludes: “It is notable that the aggregate whitefish spawning stock biomass have increased dramatically over the last two decades and are now at record high levels.
“Over much the same period the overall average levels of fishing mortality across multiple stocks have fallen substantially to record low levels.”
Dr Napier’s paper can be viewed in full at: https://www.nafc.uhi.ac.uk/t4-media/one-web/nafc/research/document/shetland-fisheries-statistics/trends/Note_2017-09-14_Trends_in_Fish_Stocks_2018.pdf