Scottish Fish Prospects For 2011

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
31 December 2010, at 12:00am

UK - 2010 was a year of "ups and downs" for Scotland's fishing industry, said WWF Scotland today (Friday 31 December) as it published its end of year assessment of the state of Scotland's main whitefish stocks.

The 'ups' included North Sea haddock achieving Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation for sustainability, whilst the 'downs' involved cod stocks failing to recover sufficiently to allow an increase in quota next year, despite the progressive conservation measures taken by Scotland's fishing fleet.

However, the conservation group said there is still a "bright future" for fish stocks and those who depend upon them, but only if 'at risk' stocks such as cod are given greater protection. WWF also repeated its calls for progressive reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and for the Scottish Government to offer support to allow more fisheries to become sustainable and achieve MSC accreditation.

Based on the latest scientific information, existing management plans and recent announcements on quotas, WWF Scotland made the following end of year assessment of four of Scotland's most important whitefish species.


(Value: £ 32.1 million. Volume landed: 32,680 tonnes)*

In the North Sea, haddock is managed under a long term management plan agreed with Norway. In October 2010 the North Sea haddock fishery gained MSC certification. However, discards of haddock in West of Scotland remain unacceptably high (66 per cent in 2009 according to the Commission). Haddock is still below safe limits in this area. As the quota for this stock was only cut by 25 per cent, compared to scientific advice for a zero total allowable catch, WWF believes that more effective measures to protect West of Scotland haddock are urgently needed.COD

(Value: £16.7 million. Volume landed: 9,400 tonnes)*
  • Cod was once the mainstay of Scottish fisheries but landing values have now fallen to levels below those of haddock and monkfish.
  • Despite the progressive measures taken in Scotland to protect cod, stocks have not yet recovered enough and there will now be a 20 per cent cut in quotas for North Sea cod and a 25 per cent cut in West of Scotland cod.
  • The cut in the North Sea is in line with the agreed EU-Norway management plan, in contrast to that for West of Scotland where scientists recommended no total allowable catch.
  • WWF regrets the European Council and Commission decision to ignore the recommendation for no allowable catch in West of Scotland cod, as proposed by the Scottish Government, as it will not reduce catches and will lead to substantial discards since vessels will target cod until the quota has been caught.

(Value: £31.2 million. Volume landed: 9,900 tonnes)*
  • The fourth most important species (by value) landed in Scotland, this is a relatively new target species, and scientific knowledge needs to be improved.
  • The work jointly carried out by scientists and industry in the past few years to improve scientific knowledge of these stocks has led to progress and needs to be continued so that quotas can be more in line with the state of the stocks.
  • There were quota cuts for 2011 which in the North Sea follow scientific advice and go a little beyond the advice in West of Scotland.
In the North Sea, following agreement between the EU and Norway to establish a long-term management plan, quotas were increased. In contrast, in West of Scotland, the whiting stock is, according to scientists, at a historical low. Scientific advice therefore was for as low a quota as possible. WWF regrets that instead of a zero quota, as recommended by scientists and proposed by the Scottish Government, catches were reduced by only 25 per cent. WWF calls on the Scottish Government and the industry to do all in their power to ensure that solid data is made available on catches, discards and landings so that the necessary measures are put in place to rebuild depleted West of Scotland stocks.

*Note: £ values and landings are for 2009. Sources: Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics and Fisheries Council 2010.

Commenting, WWF Scotland's Marine Policy Officer, Dr Mireille Thom, said: "Scotland accounts for over two-thirds of UK quotas, and last year Scottish fisheries landed over £400 million worth of fish and shellfish into Scottish ports. The main species caught in the mixed whitefish fishery in Scottish waters are cod, haddock, whiting and monkfish.

"2010 was a year of ups and downs for many fish stocks. In general the North Sea continues to be in better shape than the West of Scotland.

"Conservation measures taken by the industry have been rewarded in the North Sea where the haddock fishery gained MSC certification. However, despite progressive measures being taken in Scotland to protect cod, including the use of more selective fishing gear and CCTV on board a number of vessels, North Sea cod stocks have not yet recovered enough to avoid new cuts in quotas. Worse still, recent decisions by the European Council could lead to increased levels of discards.

"During 2011 we call on political parties to commit in their manifestos to help more Scottish fisheries progress through MSC certification pre-assessment so that all fisheries are certified sustainable by 2015.

"Scotland's fishing industry is part of the fabric of the nation and has a profitable future ahead of it, but only if long-term conservation measures are strengthened and the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) undergoes an effective reform along more sustainable lines."