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Scottish Fishermen Slam Report for its Misleading Information

22 August 2012

UK - The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) has criticised a report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and OCEAN2012 for containing misleading information on the state of UK and European fish fisheries.

The SFF says the continuing flow of wrong information on fisheries from some environmental organisations and other bodies does a huge disservice to the general public and jeopardises the future of an industry that has made huge strides in recent years in ensuring the sustainable harvesting of fish stocks.

In its opening statement, The 2012 Fish Dependence Report states that European Union fish stocks are in “an unprecedentedly poor state”.

According to Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, this sweeping statement is profoundly wrong and ignores a raft evidence that EU fish stocks are actually recovering following years of quota cutbacks and other technical conservation measures, many of which have been pioneered by the Scottish fishing industry.

“This latest report is advocacy dressed up as science and economics,” said Mr Armstrong. “Our fish stocks are not in an ‘unprecedentedly poor state’ as contended in the report,” said Mr Armstrong.

“The primary evidence for this misleading statement is based on decreased annual landings. Of course landings have decreased - but this is a logical response to allowing stocks to recover.

“In reality our stocks are in an unprecedented state of recovery following years of real sacrifice by the fishing industry. Indeed, the EC only very recently said that the situation was improving, which is leading to increases in quotas for some species.”

The EC stated in June 2012 that over-fished stocks in the north-east Atlantic and nearby seas (where scientific assessment can be carried out) fell from 32 out of 34 stocks in 2005 to 18 out of 38 stocks in 2012, i.e. from 97 per cent to 47 per cent. The situation is continuing to improve year-on-year and crucial fish stocks such as North Sea and West of Scotland haddock are now being fished sustainably.

Mr Armstrong also pointed out the wide range of conservation initiatives that are being undertaken by fishermen. For example, Scottish prawn fishermen have responded dramatically to the challenge to significantly reduce cod and other fish discards by developing and introducing a number of innovative trawl designs that have cut unwanted fish by-catches by around 70 per cent in sea-going trials.

The development of these prawn trawls is going hand-in-hand with other conservation initiatives pioneered by the Scottish whitefish sector, including real time area closures to protect stocks and technical alterations to fishing gear.

“Unfortunately, initiatives such as these are ignored by my some environmental organisations as it doesn’t suit their agenda led policies,” said Mr Armstrong.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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