Science points to bigger catch
The annual advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) was published today. This forms the basis for the European Commission’s proposals for 2013 fishing opportunities for Scotland and other EU fleets, to be decided in December.
The scientific advice for whitefish and herring stocks points towards sustainable increases next year for eight key Scottish stocks, while reductions for cod will present challenges.
ICES recommends increases for four out of five of the major North Sea stocks (haddock, saithe, whiting and plaice). Two years ago the advice was for cuts in four out of five stocks, meaning we have seen significant improvements during that time.
The advice includes a substantial rise in West of Scotland Haddock (up 55 per cent) as well as 15 per cent increases for some important North Sea stocks – including haddock, herring and saithe. However, reductions of 20 per cent or more are proposed for North Sea cod and nephrops (prawns), as well as a 20 per cent reduction in monkfish catches.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"We are committed to sustainable fisheries, supporting the stock recovery that will in turn underpin the future success of the Scottish fishing industry. If the scientific advice published today is followed at the end of year EU Council, it will mean both opportunities and challenges for our fleet.
"This advice demonstrates that that there has been a remarkable and welcome turn around from two years ago – when there were quota cuts across the board. I’m pleased that the advice points to continuing healthy increases in quota for most of our key commercial stocks, reflecting a positive picture in their sustainability and abundance.
"On cod, the stock is showing continued signs of recovery from previously low levels, however progress isn’t fast enough. That’s why a reduction for 2013 is proposed under the long-term management – however our cod quota would still be around ten per cent more than in 2007.
"The overall picture promises significant economic benefits for the Scottish fleet and could see around a £10 million increase in the value of landings, if all quotas are caught. However, we will need to work closely with fishermen to see how we can avoid a reduced cod quota leading to significant increases in discards.
"The mixed fishery of the North Sea makes it difficult to avoid cod, therefore we will need to find creative solutions that maximise sustainable fishing opportunities. In the coming months we will be engaging closely with industry on this."
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea