Researchers at the University of Glasgow and Marine Scotland Science published a study (27 August) on the impact of deep-sea trawling at depths of 600m or more.

According to the researchers in the study ‘A Scientific Basis for Regulating Deep-Sea Fishing by Depth’, results from the research suggest there are conservation benefits to limiting deep-sea trawling down to depths of 600m and not any deeper.

However, commenting upon the study, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), said: “Whilst the number of Scottish boats working a deep-water fishery is small, they do nonetheless make a significant contribution to the economies of local communities, catching and landing only the limited and sustainable quotas allocated.

“We have a number of concerns about the robustness of this research in terms of the real world of deep-sea fisheries.  Using scientific survey data to draw conclusions upon commercial fishing activity is fraught with danger. This is because such information is normally collected via random trawl sampling, whereas commercial fishing tows are very targeted and aimed at specific species or groups of species.

“Commercial boats also use much more selective nets with larger meshes compared to those used in scientific sampling. Such trawls used by our fishermen will become even more selective in future years so as to meet the requirements of the discard ban, further minimising any impact.

“Therefore, given the nature of our deep water fishery and the fishing techniques used, there is absolutely no conservation benefit for a blanket closure beyond 600m depth – all it would do is displace boats to fish in other sea areas. Much better to have sensible management in these areas to ensure environmental protection whilst at the same time enabling the continuation of sustainable fishing.”