UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Friday 19 July 2024
 13.8°C   S Moderate Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Marine / Local fishermen’s association calls for review panel to assess scientific catch advice

The Ocean Challenge joined the local whitefish fleet in October last year. Photo: Ivan Reid

SHETLAND Fishermen’s Association (SFA) has joined forces with the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA) to urge Scotland’s ministers to create a special panel to review stock assessments after “wild swings” in catch advice in recent years. 

They are advocating the establishment of a body equivalent to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee to evaluate recommendations from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

The two associations argue that insufficient consideration is taken of the often “shaky foundations” on which ICES stock assessments are made, with most derived from computer models and complex mathematical algorithms based on “highly simplistic assumptions”.

In support of their claims they cite the example of Northeast Atlantic mackerel advice which swung from 857,000 tonnes in 2017 down to 318,000 tonnes in 2018 and then back up to 922,000 tonnes in 2019, after ICES reviewed its modelling and adjusted its algorithms.

They also mention North Sea cod, where ICES has failed to take account in its advice of the changing distribution of the stock from the southern to the northern part of the North Sea.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins. Photo: Shetland News

SFA executive officer Simon Collins said: “It is essential that limits on what fishermen can catch are informed by science.

“But unfortunately the advice produced by ICES can turn out to be erroneous, resulting in unnecessary damage to the fishing industry and the communities that depend on it.

“As everyone knows, fish cannot be counted like trees, so what ICES has to do is model stock changes mathematically, often with very little real data, starting with an assessment that is itself a modelled outcome.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

 

“Vast swings in stock advice can result from tweaks to these models and what skippers end up with is catching opportunities that bear little resemblance to the abundance of different species on their fishing grounds. Often to their severe detriment.”

Mike Park, chief executive of the SWFPA, added: “The drawbacks of the ICES modelling are compounded by the fact that there are no alternative sources of advice, there is no peer review of the advice and fisheries managers are not obliged to consider advice or information from other sources.

“So we have ended up with a monoculture that needs to be redressed, and that is why we are advocating the creation of a Fisheries Advice Panel charged with reviewing scientific advice for the benefit of the Scottish fisheries minister, particularly when it comes to negotiations over Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas.”

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.

 
Categories

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.