Fisheries managers say stock advice is ‘hopeless news’ for the Scottish fleet
Scottish fisheries chiefs have warned that ‘sound’ management of shared stocks would be ‘almost impossible to achieve’ if scientists calling for a drastic cut in North Sea cod quotas succeed.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ice), which advises European governments on the quantity of fish to be caught, based on its latest stock assessments, wants to reduce the total allowable catch (TAC) for cod of the North Sea by 10.3% thereafter.
Ices’ recommendation for West Coast saithe – also known as saithe – is for an even deeper cut, 24%.
At the same time, the organization is advocating increases of 154% for haddock in the North Sea and the west coast, as well as a 236% increase in the TAC for whiting in the North Sea.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association chief executive Simon Collins said the last tip Ices, headquartered in Copenhagen, had “nothing to do with what our members see on the fishing grounds every day.”
“Ices must carefully consider the process”
Mr Collins said the recommendation for North Sea cod in particular was “catastrophically flawed”.
And calling for “substantial” reform of an “imperfect” approach to fisheries management, he said: “With such wild two-way fluctuations occurring regularly in recent years, it is clear that the ice must carefully examine the process. and examine whether its modeling is still relevant.
“At the same time, our governments must ask themselves whether they are prepared to create intractable problems for our fishing fleet just because a computer says so.
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Managing Director Elspeth Macdonald said: “We are appalled by the advice of a 10% reduction in the total allowable catch of cod in the North Sea.
“It just doesn’t reflect the volumes of cod that fishermen see in the field, and given the huge cuts over the past two years, this is hopeless news for the industry.
“No account is taken of the distribution of the different cod stocks in the North Sea and adjacent areas and Ices must modify its modeling to take these spatial considerations into account.”
Ms. Macdonald added, “We are aware that the process is moving towards including such considerations, but progress is too slow as the interim modeling is not good enough to ensure a just transition.
“When you add the fact that there is advice for large increases in TACs for other species, namely haddock and North Sea whiting, and serious quota constraints due to the appalling Brexit deal, sound management of these fisheries is becoming almost impossible to achieve.
It just doesn’t reflect the volumes of cod that fishermen see on the ground, and given the huge cuts over the past two years, this is hopeless news for the industry.
Elspeth Macdonald, CEO, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation
“In a mixed fishery, as soon as you have low cod quotas, you limit the opportunities for fishermen to catch these other key species. “
The latest advice for west coast whiting “is more reflective of what captains are seeing on the ground” after years of industry showing an abundance of the species “to no avail,” she said.
Scottish White Fish Producers ‘Association chief executive Mike Park has renewed calls on the Scottish government to set up an independent committee to assess the scientists’ recommendations and ‘put them into perspective’.
Mr Park added: “The ice has not kept up with changes in the ecosystem, such as the migration of cod stocks which appear to be driven by climate change.
“There is no point in advising large increases in quotas for certain stocks when absurdly small quotas for others caught at the same time prevent vessels from going to sea. Fish do not swim together in tidy schools of fish. their own kind.
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