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Marine / Record stocks disprove claims of overfishing, association says

The new fish market in Lerwick opened last year. Photo: John Coutts

SHETLAND Fishermen’s Association is calling on government ministers and civil servants to resist any calls from environmental NGOs to slash fishing quota after the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) found that whitefish stocks in Scotland’s waters have doubled in size over the last 20 years.

Analysis from the international body, which makes the annual recommendations for total allowable catches (TAQs), has now shown that fish stocks in Scotland are at record level while the amount of fish being caught has declined markedly.

The analysis shows that, with inevitable fluctuations, the aggregate spawning stock biomasses (SSB) of the principal whitefish stocks have increased since the early 2000s, with some stocks increasing by much greater amounts.

The SFA’s executive officer Simon Collins said: “There are more fish in the sea than ever, and our boats are catching less than they have ever done.

“And yet if you listened to the headline seekers in the environmental NGOs, you would think that there was a crisis of over-fishing and climate impacts.

“The simple truth is that like all sectors, we have work to do on reducing our impact on the climate, but we have come an incredibly long way and are already a climate-smart industry when it comes to the impact on stocks, as this research shows.”

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