Significantly higher numbers of north sea cod, haddock and whiting may be available to Scots fishermen next year, according to new scientific assessments published this week.
The annual advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) – an international network of marine and fisheries scientists – helps to inform the fisheries negotiations that take place in the autumn to decide how much quota fishermen will receive in the coming year.
This year’s advice takes into account changes to discard levels resulting from the phasing in of the landing obligation over the past two years.
Some stocks like Norway Lobster and haddock are already fully phased; some like North Sea cod and whiting are partially phased; and others like saithe will be increasingly incorporated in 2018.
The latest science includes advised increases for North sea cod (27%), whiting (34%), Norway Lobster (7%), saithe (7%) and haddock (30%), while there are advised reductions for other stocks such as hake (-4%).
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing said: “This advice marks the start of our annual cycle of fisheries negotiations and shows encouraging increases in some of our most valuable stocks for the coming year.
“While there are some disappointing declines in hake which is an increasingly difficult species to manage, overall these figures confirm we are moving in the right direction. They will be welcome news for the fishing industry with whom we will work closely over the summer to help shape our priorities for the autumn talks.
“Despite the uncertainties of Brexit, the Scottish Government will always stand up for our fishing industry, which too often has been let down by the UK Government.
“We will be pushing for a negotiating outcome that has Scotland’s interests at its heart.”