Fisheries Management in Firth of Clyde Based on Fact Not Scaremongering

27 June 2014, at 1:00am

SCOTLAND - The debate on the future management of fisheries in the Firth of Clyde must be based on fact rather than inaccurate scaremongering, says the Clyde Fishermen's Association (CFA).

Responding to the launch by the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT) of its ‘Revive the Clyde’ campaign, the CFA says the principal impression provided in their campaign video that the Clyde only contains very small whiting does not stand up to serious scrutiny.

According to CFA secretary Archie Macfarlane, recent scientific research and a fishing trial conducted on behalf of Marine Scotland produced catches of mature cod, along with other fish species, including haddock and hake.

"The truth is that our boats are working a clean fishery for prawns because the technical measures our fishermen have adopted on their trawls, including large mesh nets and escape panels for fish, means that we catch virtually no fish,” he said.

“In a recent fishing trial study using a net with no escape panel, there were catches of mature cod, which highlights the Clyde ecosystem is not in the dire state as portrayed by SIFT. Another previous Marine Scotland scientific study revealed that the Clyde has the largest biomass of fish since the 1940s, and although the majority of that comprises of small fish with whiting being the predominant species, there are also larger fish present too.”

The Clyde Ecosystem Review published by Marine Scotland Science in 2011 states that while there is not yet a healthy fish population, the Clyde ecosystem is still active and productive, with the potential to be restored.

The report also reveals that from 1995 to 2004 just four fish species made up 95% of the biomass of Clyde demersal fish, whereas in 2005-2009 this had increased to eight, with the proportion of whiting falling, possibly indicating that an enhanced overall ecosystem balance of some kind is now happening.

"Of course, we are not saying that everything is rosy in the Clyde - far from it - and we do recognise that much more work needs to be done to further enhance the marine environment of the Firth for all stakeholders. However, for this to be achieved, we need a consensual approach based on scientific evidence and sober fact, rather than on emotive scaremongering.

“A healthy marine environment benefits everyone and for fishermen it is essential for their futures. Rather than being fuelled by overly-dramatic hyperbole, any management measures will take time to develop and need sensible balance and careful thought, whilst at the same time protecting the livelihoods of hardworking fishermen and our coastal communities.”

The Clyde Ecosystem Review can be viewed at: