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Marine / Fishing stocks high, report suggests

Lerwick fish market. Photo: Shetland News

STOCKS of Scotland’s key commercial fish species – particularly haddock and cod – are at their highest level for decades, according to new official assessments.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) said that while “many environmental lobbyists claim that fish stocks are under threat, the reality is that the spawning stock biomass of haddock is the largest it has been since 1972 and cod the largest since 1998”.

Other species in the North Sea, such as whiting and plaice, are also up and are predicted to rise further.

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advice, summarised by Dr Ian Napier of UHI Shetland and highlighted by the SFA, underlines why recommendations are being made for catch increases next year.

In the report’s summary Dr Napier writes: “The general overall picture continues to be one of relatively high abundances, following increases over the last two decades, and of relatively low levels of exploitation following decreases over the same time period.”

SFA executive officer Simon Collins said: “We face a continuous parade of environmental NGOs popping up to tell government and consumers that fish stocks are under threat, exhausted or bordering on extinction.

“As ICES itself points out, this is quite literally codswallop.The family-owned businesses that comprise our whitefish fleet here in Shetland have been fishing sustainably for generations and should never have been drowned out by doomsayers with their own anti-fishing agendas.

“Politicians and officials in government need to recognise the reality of the state of our stocks and resist all attempts to damage our industry by those who talk it down without a shred of evidence for their claims.”

The full report can be found here.

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