Scientific evidence shows fish stocks on the increase

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The widely-publicised news confirming that cod stock recovery is well underway in the North Sea should not mask the fact that the majority of other assessed fish stocks are increasing too.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation says stocks in the north-east Atlantic are also on the rise - in some cases by substantial amounts.

This was underlined in a recent report by NAFC Marine Centre in Shetland which revealed that the abundance of most of the main species caught by Scottish fishermen has increased over the last five or six years.

The report by the centre’s Fisheries Policy Section collated and summarised information published by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

As well as the good news on cod, the report revealed that stocks of some other species have increased to unprecedented levels: the plaice stock in the North Sea for example was larger in 2012 than at any time since at least 1960, having tripled in size since 2004.

The stock of hake more than quadrupled in size between 2006 and 2011. At the same time, the fishing pressure (mortality) has also fallen sharply.

SFF chief executive, Bertie Armstrong, said: “The majority of our fish stocks in the north-east Atlantic are increasing in size due in large part to the sustainable fishing practices of our fishing fleet.

“It should not be forgotten that our fishermen have made considerable sacrifices to reach this stage, including a considerable downsizing of the fleet and the adoption of innovative conservation measures.

“Hopefully, the enhanced regional control powers that will be at the heart of the new Common Fisheries Policy will enable much improved fisheries management in the future,” he added.