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Scottish Prawn Catch Decline due to Environmental Change

23 May 2013

SCOTLAND, UK - The publication of a scientific article by Marine Scotland on the environmental factors affecting a key fishery in the North Sea for prawns (langoustines) highlights the dynamic nature of the marine environment and the need for greater understanding of such natural fluxes, says the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF).

The article outlines the environmental factors which have affected the prawn fishery on the Fladen Ground in the North Sea with weather patterns causing colder than usual water temperatures.

For the first four months of 2013 landing figures show a 52 per cent decline compared to the same period last year. The situation has also been replicated on the west coast, but to a lesser extent.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive said: “The report highlights the ‘light touch’ activities of the fishing fleet; harvest rates are relatively low with the stock fished well below the agreed target rates and it is emphasised that the current situation has no connection with excessive fishing.

“It would seem, therefore, that poorly understood environmental factors are driving the decline in the prawn fishery, with lower than normal temperatures being one possible suggestion. Whether this is a short-term phenomenon or part of underlying climate change is impossible to tell, but it does underline the very difficult operating conditions our fishermen work under and the need for greater scientific research into such fluxes.

“At a time when vast sections of our fishing fleet on both the west coast and North Sea are struggling for survival due to the depressed European market and a number of tight management restrictions, the current situation for prawns underlines the rigidity of current fisheries regulations and the need to develop more flexible management in response to rapid short-term changes.”

The report can be viewed at:

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