Commenting on the statistics published today (3 September) by Scotland’s Chief Statistician that the overall quayside value of sea fish and shellfish landed by Scottish vessels in 2014 increased by 18 per cent in real terms from 2013 and the volume by 31 per cent, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said:
“These statistics highlight the importance of fishing to the Scottish economy and its crucial role in supporting fragile coastal communities.
“Whilst the figures at first glance appear to reflect a buoyant industry, they should be treated with a degree of caution because most of the increase in value and volume can be attributed to mackerel, which saw a large increase in quota last year due to the abundance of the stock.
“However, the underlying good news is that the majority of fish stocks of interest to our fishermen – such as North Sea haddock and cod – are either in good health or are heading in the right direction.
“But major challenges remain. Of particular significance is the fact that the quota allocation for whitefish was almost fully taken up in 2014. This means that when the landing obligation, or discard ban as it is known, starts to be phased-in from 1 January 2016, as things stand there is currently very little room for manoeuvre for the fleet. These landing figures therefore underline that if the discard ban is to work, there is the real need for there to be sensible compensatory quota increases to account for the fact that all fish caught will have to be landed.
“There is also the ongoing challenge that needs to be addressed of achieving the sensible balance of protecting the marine environment whilst ensuring the maximum sustainable yield from fishing. Both aims can be achieved if the right approach is taken.”