Scottish fishermen have welcomed a new report which highlights that most major whitefish stocks have increased in Scottish waters since the mid-2000s while fishing pressure has reduced significantly.

The report – Trends in Scottish Fish Stocks 2016 – produced by the NAFC Marine Centre UHI in Shetland draws upon the most recently published data from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) on the state of commercially important fish stocks in waters around Scotland.

The report shows that the general overall picture is of increasing abundance of stocks and declining levels of exploitation, with some stocks at historically high levels.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “We are delighted this report confirms the general trend of increasing fish stocks in Scottish waters. Much of this recovery can be attributed to the innovation of our fishermen in developing more selective types of fishing gear and pioneering other initiatives such as real time area closures.

“With Brexit looming, our fishermen can look to the future with real confidence. Regaining control of our own 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) will provide a sea of opportunity for the implementation of fit-for-purpose sustainable fisheries management that benefits both our fishing communities and the marine environment.

“This steady and hard-won recovery must be nurtured and continued.  The report underlines the clear importance of gaining full control of our EEZ, which must be a red-line issue during the forthcoming negotiations. Access to our waters should only be considered and discussed once we have achieved this control.”

The full report – Trends in Scottish Fish Stocks 2016 –  which was produced by NAFC’s Senior Policy Advisor, Dr Ian R. Napier, is available at: www.nafc.uhi.ac.uk/fish-stocks (pdf file) or from NAFC’s Shetland Fisheries Statistics web page: www.nafc.uhi.ac.uk/fish-stats .