As the industry prepares for this landmark moment most stocks are in good shape, with growing abundance to be found across many of our key North Sea species.
This year fish landing values have increased by nearly 20 per cent with revenues worth over £500 million and the scientific advice which will inform quotas for next year is very positive across many of our key stocks:
- North Sea Cod sees a recommended increase of 15 per cent
- Haddock is set to increase by at least 30 per cent
- Monkfish is advised to rise by 20 per cent
- Megrim is expected to increase by 26 per cent
- Rockall Haddock is advised to rise by 25 per cent
- West Coast Nephrops (prawns) are recommended to rise by 15 per cent
To help Scottish fleets adapt to the introduction of the white fish and prawn discard ban next year, extra quota will be allocated to reflect the unique challenges of the discard ban.
Speaking at the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation annual dinner in Edinburgh Mr Lochhead said: “The fishing industry is very important to Scotland’s economy and contributes over £500 million in revenues a year. It supports a lot of jobs in Scotland. It’s great to hear that the fishing has been good over the last year, with a growing abundance of key commercial stocks promising to keep businesses buoyant. At the same time, I’m also alive to the challenges in some stocks, like North Sea Nephrops and Whiting, and where necessary we’ll be seeking to mitigate these in the forthcoming negotiations.
“Increasing stocks bring confidence and increasingly I am hearing about thriving businesses, about plans to invest and young skippers coming through. However we know there is more to do, which is why the Scottish Government will continue to support our fishing industry and their communities as they seek to overcome a variety of challenges.
“The discard ban is foremost among these. No-one wants to see dead fish being thrown back into the sea - least of all our fishermen. This is why I’ve consistently supported the ban. For me it’s a no brainer if we’re to be serious about managing our natural resources, conserving fish stocks, and playing a meaningful role in improving global food security.
“That's why we are working closely with the industry to ensure the discard ban is implemented effectively and proportionately in Scotland, and to help make sure fishermen are fully prepared.
“To help fishermen adapt to the challenges of the discard ban we will provide additional quota for those stocks coming under the ban next year. That will mean a double boost for Haddock, for example, with an additional top-up over and above the advised 30 per cent increase, resulting in a potential bumper increase of 56 per cent.
“This quota will be allocated once the relevant industry groups have submitted a discard ban management plan outlining how they will encourage fishermen to make positive changes to their fishing practices.”