In a landmark development, the representative association for Scotland’s mackerel and herring fishermen has appointed a Chief Scientific Officer to spearhead marine research to boost understanding of key pelagic fish stocks and improve their management.
The appointment of Dr Steven Mackinson by the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) represents an innovative new approach to fisheries management where fishing vessels will play a significant role in collecting and disseminating scientific information on fish stocks.
Dr Mackinson brings a wealth of experience to his new role, joining from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) where he was a Senior Fisheries Scientist.
He will drive forward scientific work to enhance our knowledge of economically vital pelagic fish stocks such as mackerel, herring and blue whiting.
Using catch and other data gathered by the Scottish pelagic fleet, the information collated by Dr Mackinson will be fed into the formal scientific international stock assessment process which is used to provide advice on annual quota limits and other management measures.
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the SPFA, said: “Stock sustainability is a key principle of our association, which is demonstrated by our five main fisheries participating in the Marine Stewardship Council eco-label programme. This new scientific appointment further supports the commitment shown by our fishermen for a sustainable future.”
Dr Mackinson said: “I’m delighted to be joining the SPFA at an exciting time for our pelagic fisheries where stocks are generally healthy and consumer demand is growing.
“From my work in the past, I know that fishermen can play a crucial role in helping obtain valuable data that can be used to ensure informed decision-making on fisheries management.”
The role is supported by the SPFA, Scottish Government and Scottish Fishermen’s Trust.