Sunday 14 July 2024
 11.7°C   NNE Moderate Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Marine / Skippers urge ‘common-sense’ approach to cod quotas

There are 180 million cod in the North Sea according to Shetland Fishermen’s Association. Photo: Shetland News

FISHERMEN are warning Scottish and UK government ministers against an “ideological approach” to setting next year’s catch quotas for species such as cod.

The warning follows advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) that includes options of severe cuts in quotas for North Sea cod and other whitefish species.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association has issued a briefing paper that “dispels a series of myths” about North Sea cod and describes as “risible” the notion that it is endangered.

Executive officer Simon Collins said that the state of fish stocks warrants calm management rather than “blinkered dogmatism”.

ICES advice on fishing opportunities is that in order to achieve a maximum sustainable yield, catches in the North Sea, eastern English Channel and Skagerrak should be no more than 10,457 tonnes – a reduction of 70 per cent on this year’s TAC [Total Allowable Catch].

ICES, which issues scientific advice to the EU and coastal states, says that the amount of cod caught has increased since 2015, the spawning stock has decreased since 2015 and recruitment (the number of fish reaching a year old) “remains poor”.

Collins added: “The main point we are making is that cod is by no means in steep decline.

Simon Collins, executive officer of the SFA. Photo: Shetland News

“There were more than 180 million cod in the North Sea in 2018 – that’s three times the human population of the UK and three times more than the most common land animal, the field vole.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

 

“So to describe cod as ‘threatened’ or ‘endangered’ or at risk of ‘extinction’, as many have, is risible.”

He added: “The second key point, from a fisheries management point of view, is that the baseline or reference point if you like, on which decisions about how much can or should be caught, is utterly meaningless.

“There was a huge upsurge in the cod stock in the 1960s and 1970s, for not wholly understood reasons, but this has never recurred. And decisions are being made about TACs in the misguided belief that we can get back to that size of a stock.

“We can’t control nature to turn the clock back, especially when other factors have altered, such as the concentration of the stock now in the northern North Sea rather than throughout the North Sea.”

The SFA paper says that all fish stocks vary in abundance over time, and the overall abundance of six principal whitefish species in the North Sea – the others being haddock, plaice, saithe, sole and whiting – has more than doubled in the last 20 years.

“The reality of the situation is that scientists are saying that North Sea cod is twice as abundant as it was a dozen years ago. Their advice to cut quotas has nothing to do with conservation and everything to do with a wholly unrealistic political objective,” said Collins.

“We are sick and tired of ideology getting in the way of sustainable fisheries management. As always, there is serious discussion to be had over catch quotas. But they have to be based on reality, not political targets plucked from thin air.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.

 

Newsletters

Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.