'Enormous potential' for Scottish fleet as fish landings increase

The top three demersal species of haddock, monkfish and cod all increased in tonnage and value
The top three demersal species of haddock, monkfish and cod all increased in tonnage and value

There has been a warm welcome to news of increases in fish and shellfish landings in Scotland.

Landings were up 3% at 466,000 tonnes with a combined value of £560 million in 2017.

However the total value fell by 1% to £560 million allowing for inflation.

Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid said the figures demonstrated there was still "enormous potential" for the industry.

The Conservative MP said: “The reported increase in volume of landings ties with what I have been hearing from fishermen in my constituency over the past year. This is good news, but also highlights the enormous potential that still exists from leaving the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy.

"At present, UK boats are only landing 40% of the fish in our own waters. That is why Brexit is referred to as a sea of opportunity. Leaving the EU means we can secure a fairer deal for our fishermen across the UK.”

MSP Peter Chapman echoed those sentiments, saying: "It is very positive news for our fishermen, but also shows once again the huge opportunity that awaits the sector after we leave the EU. Brexit offers a great chance to secure a fairer deal for our fishermen.

“That will mean more landings and a boost to the Scottish and wider UK economy, but it will also require investment in the fleet and in onshore infrastructure and processing capacity.”

The Scottish Government findings reveal that mackerel remains the the most valuable stock to the fleet accounting for 29 percent of the total value of fish landings by Scottish vessels - or £162 million

Last year the real value of mackerel landings decreased by six percent, driven by the five percent decrease in the tonnage of mackerel. Total tonnage of pelagic landings, however, increased due to increased landings of blue whiting, which is primarily caught for industrial use and attracts much lower prices.

The top three demersal species of haddock, monkfish and cod all increased in tonnage and value. These species combined account for 20 per cent of the total value of all Scottish landings with 102,000 tonnes brought to market worth £184 million.

Compared with 2016, the tonnage of shellfish species fell to 63,000 tonnes and value increased almost six percent to £180 million. Nephrops remain the most valuable shellfish species to the Scottish fleet, accounting for 13 per cent or £75 million of the total value of all Scottish fish landings.

But in 2017, the real value of Nephrops landings decreased by four per cent and the tonnage increased by three per cent.