Scientists find stocks healthy

Mackerel - one of Scotland's most valuable fish stocks  - are at relatively healthy levels say scientists.
Mackerel - one of Scotland's most valuable fish stocks - are at relatively healthy levels say scientists.

Some of Scotland’s most valuable fish stocks, Mackerel and Blue Whiting, appear to be at relatively healthy levels, according to the latest scientific advice published today.

However, the new guidance has recommended that catches in 2015 should be reduced in line with internationally agreed management plans to safeguard the long-term future of stocks.

New scientific advice is published each year by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) – an international network of marine and fisheries scientists – and helps to inform the fisheries negotiations that take place in the autumn each year to determine how much quota our fishermen will receive in the coming year.

Responding to these assessments, Scottish Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead, said:“Publication of ICES advice marks the start of the annual cycle of considering and negotiating our fleet’s fishing opportunities for each stock in the coming year.

“As usual, this scientific advice shows a mixed picture with some stocks maintaining a healthy position and others requiring more considered management. Mackerel is Scotland’s most valuable fishery and I welcome confirmation that the stock remains relatively stable.

“However, we must protect this fishery’s long-term future through a return in 2015 to catch levels consistent with the scientific advice and the agreed management plan.

“This new advice comes after last year’s 128 percent increase in the total allowable catch for mackerel, which was a one-off to secure international agreement. In the forthcoming negotiations I will seek to deliver a deal that has both Scotland’s interests and the state of our most valuable fishery at its heart.

“I also very much welcome indications that stocks of Blue Whiting remain in a robust condition. Scotland’s Blue Whiting quota plays an important role in EU/Norway negotiations and I will work closely with all sectors of our fishing industry when considering the options available to us.

“Scottish Government officials and I will continue to work closely with all parts of the fishing industry to explain the science in detail and hear what impact these new assessments will have.”