Why is this National Indicator important?
Marine Scotland's mission is to manage Scotland's seas, or its marine environment, for prosperity and environmental sustainability - supporting the SG's overall purpose of sustainable economic growth. Achieving and then maintaining healthy fish stocks is vital for us to deliver against this mission. Some of our key stocks have been at historically low levels in recent years. So if we are to ensure that these stocks are healthy and sustainable for future generations, as part of a sustainable wider marine environment, we need to continue tackling this problem. We do this by ensuring that when we decide on quotas we stay within the boundaries of scientific advice on the size of the stock ("full reproductive capacity") and the rate at which it should be fished ("harvested sustainably"). By fishing our key commercial stocks more sustainably, we will, in time, maximise sustainable returns from fishing.
What will influence this National Indicator?
Our ability to meet this indicator will depend on decisions taken in the meantime to fish our key stocks at sustainable levels and on the extent to which these decisions are complied with. On the former the Scottish Government will work primarily with European and other international partners; the latter will depend crucially on a continuing dialogue with the fishing sector on the important role of high levels of compliance in ensuring the sustainability of stocks.
Another factor will be the continued availability of high quality scientific advice, in particular from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). This body's scientists provide Member States, the European Commission and other important decision-making forums with independent advice on how best to manage their fish stocks and on the quota levels they should set. Other sources of scientific advice include the European Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries.
Environmental factors such as climate change may also be influential particularly if they have an impact on the numbers of fish recruited into the different fisheries.
What is the Government's role?
The indicator commits the Scottish Government to strive for European agreement on aligning fishing levels on key Scottish commercial stocks with the best scientific information available. The Scottish Government is represented in the European negotiations which develop long-term management plans and which decide the catch limits for the majority of these stocks. The Scottish Government also uses independent scientific advice, most often from ICES, to determine its priorities when negotiating catch limits for a number of fish stocks with other European countries. In addition, the Government monitors advice and data from sources including the renowned Marine Laboratory (now part of Marine Scotland) in Aberdeen, to ensure that sound conservation measures are implemented across the Scottish fleet. The Government also seeks to achieve high levels of compliance with the quotas set, partly through the work of Marine Scotland Compliance and partly through intensive dialogues with the sector.
How are we performing?
In 2012, the proportion (calculated as a three-year moving average) of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks where the quota (Total Allowable Catch (TAC)) was set in line with scientific guidance was 66 per cent. In 2011, this figure was 84%. The 18.1 percentage point decrease in the proportion of fish stocks where quota was set in line with scientific guidance observed for 2012 compared with 2011 was a substantial change (out-with three percentage points) indicating performance worsening. (The 18.1 percentage point decrease is based on the unrounded figures).
The main reason for this decrease is due to the mackerel crisis, where both Iceland and the Faroe Islands have increased their traditional allocation of the TAC without agreement with other coastal states with the result that the total level of fishing for mackerel is above the level recommended in the scientific guidance.
As mackerel accounts for over 40% of the total value of stock landed, when the guidance can not be followed the percentage will be adversely affected.
Policy colleagues have re-assessed the stocks for which the TAC was set in line with scientific advice for previous years which has resulted in some revisions to previous years indicator values, particularly those for 2010 and 2011. The 2009 three year moving average value has risen from 74 per cent to 78 per cent; the 2010 value has risen from 77 per cent to 85 per cent and the 2011 value has increased from 74 per cent to 84 per cent. The inclusion of 2012 provisional statistics has also contributed to the revised 2011 indicator value.
Note (1): Stocks for which there was no available advice for the year, or where the advice was unclear, have been counted as if the TAC was not consistent with the advice.
Note (2): For each year, the calculation of the proportion of fish stocks used data weighted by value for that year. Landings data for 2010 was estimated by final 2009 landings data.
Note (3): Each point on the graph refers to the proportion of fish stocks where the TAC was set within scientific advice calculated over the three year period centred on that year.
The data for this chart is available at the bottom of the page
Source: Marine Scotland
Criteria for recent change
This evaluation is based on: any difference within +/- 3 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. An increase of 3 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas a decrease of 3 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Who are our partners?
International Council for the Exploration of the Seas
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Related Strategic Objectives
Wealthier and Fairer