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Greater Co-operation Between Fishermen, Scientists

UK - The Scottish Fishermens Federation has welcomed the decision by international scientists and regional fisheries groups to work more closely together to tackle the problem of weak fish stock assessments caused by inadequate data.

Weak fish stock assessments have been a perennial problem affecting the fishing industry, with incomplete scientific data resulting in poor decision-making in the management of fisheries.

But now the scientific body ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) and two of the Regional Advisory Councils important to Scottish fishing have announced that they are planning to work alongside each other to establish regional task forces that will address the deficiencies in the scientific process and data used to make stock assessments, as well as advise on management.

These task forces will draw upon the experience, catching data and other information from fishermen, which will then be incorporated into the scientific stock assessment process.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish fishermen’s Federation said: “As active members of the Regional Advisory Councils, we welcome this development because weak stock assessments for a number of important stocks are the defining weakness of current fisheries management policy. With constraints on public spending evident worldwide, the only realistic new source of data and advice to properly align the assessments with reality is the industry itself.

“Marine scientists presently have no choice for a wide range of stocks but to make their stock assessments based on inadequate data. We now have a golden opportunity to change this with scientists and the Regional Advisory Councils working closely together and drawing upon catch information and other data from fishermen.

“This will enable better informed decisions to be made on fisheries management that will benefit both fishermen and the sustainability of our valuable fish stocks.”

the Fish Site Editor

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