Eyemouth fleet to benefit


Growth in fish numbers in the North Sea should mean larger quotas for fishermen, according to new findings published this week.

Numbers of Haddock, Plaice and North Sea Nephrops (lobsters and prawns) have been increasing.

This has led the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) - an international network of marine and fisheries scientists - to call for higher quotas from 2015.

ICES puts out an annual report that helps to inform fisheries of negotiations that take place in the autumn and decide the size of the quota our fishermen will receive in the coming year.

For other stocks such as Cod, Whiting, Saithe and Herring, catches will remain at current levels and even potentially decrease in line with management plans.

This is first release of ICES advice covering some of the main stocks of interest to Scotland.

The next release will be in the early autumn. This year that advice will refer to mackerel, blue whiting, Atlanto Scandian herring, as well as anglerfish and west coast Nephrops.

Responding to these assessments, Scottish Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead, said: “As usual, this scientific advice shows a mixed picture.

“I am greatly encouraged by the prospects for increased catches in 2015 for North Sea Haddock and Nephrops, particularly after the cuts sustained this year.

“These are two of the most valuable stocks for our fleet and this will be very welcome news for our fishermen.

“I am also encouraged to see that for most of the stocks of interest to Scotland, they are being fished according to the science and I would like to thank our fishermen for the contribution they continue to make to sustainable fisheries.

“For North Sea Cod, although numbers continue to increase, progress is slower.

“However, at a more local level in different parts of the North Sea, the science confirms what our fishermen have been telling me.

“This is that there are hotspots of abundance and these don’t align with the quota available.

“This can create a real headache for our fishermen who struggle to avoid catching cod even when they are targeting other fish, yet are forced to discard it because they cannot get enough quota.

Local MP Michael Moore said: “It has been incredibly tough for our fishermen in recent years as their quotas have been cut and fishing opportunity reduced.

“For a long time, they have been calling for quotas to be based on sound science, so I welcome this publication from ICES which gives us the science we need ahead of the next round of negotiations in the autumn.

“I know local fishermen will be very pleased to see that North Sea Nephrop stocks are increasing and I will be working closely with them to ensure that they get an improved quota off the back of these figures.”

For more information on the ICES project, and to browse presentations of its data-driven advice by species or by region, you can visit http://www.ices.dk/Pages/default.aspx.