Fish landings in Scotland increased last year and Eyemouth’s prawn fishing also showed a recovery from the previous year’s poor catches.
In 2014 fish landings into Eyemouth were £2.9 million, up from £2.2 million and back to the 2011-12 values. In Scotland as a whole provisional fish landing figures for 2014 were at a record high level of £513 million - 480,400 tonnes, with mackerel being the most lucrative haul accounting for £195 million of Scottish landings.
The Eyemouth fishing industry is very dependent on prawn fishing - 85% of fish landed in the port are nephrops, plus 8% lobster - so a bad year for prawns, as experienced in 2013, can hit hard.
Eyemouth Harbour Trust business manager Christine Bell said: “In 2014, we had 18 local vessels landing regularly, including creel plus over 50 visiting vessels (39 in 2013).
“Marine Scotland employment data shows that 73 people were directly employed as fishermen in Eyemouth creek during 2014. On top of that, the industry supports many more jobs locally in processing and other supporting sectors.
“When compared to 2013, which was a poor year for prawn fishing, 2014 has seen a recovery with landings comparable to 2011 and 2012 in Eyemouth.”
Commenting on the latest Scottish fish landing statistics, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The fishing industry is very important to Scotland’s economy and contributes over £500 million in revenues a year. It is encouraging to see that the value of the Scottish catch is at a record high and the volume of fish landed has increased by over 30 per cent.
“These figures bring confidence for the future and I’m hopeful that we can see revenues grow further, adding to fishermen’s bottom line and creating further good quality jobs.”
The number of fishermen heading out of Scottish ports stands at 4,796 for 2014, - both the number of regularly employed and irregularly employed fishermen down three per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “Whilst we welcome the fact that the overall volume and value of Scottish seafood landings have risen, most of this can be attributed to mackerel because the very healthy state of the stock led to an increase in quota last year.
“Indeed, it is good news that the hard work of our processing sector has managed to find markets for this fish despite the impact of the Russian import ban.
“Whitefish landings are down, although this was compensated by a higher value due to market demand. Scottish langoustine had an encouraging year with shellfish prices and volume being largely maintained.
“However, of particular significance is the fact that the quota allocation for whitefish was almost fully taken up in 2014. This means that when the landing obligation, or discard ban as it is known, starts to be phased-in from January 1, 2016, as things stand there is currently very little room for manoeuvre for the fleet.
“These landing figures therefore underline that if the discard ban is to work and not impact upon the viability of the fishing fleet, then there is the real need for there to be sensible compensatory quota increases to account for the fact that all fish caught will have to be landed.”