THE value of fish and shellfish landed by Scottish boats has hit an all-time high, the latest official figures show.
Statistics from the Scottish Government show landings increased by nearly a fifth in value since the previous year to reach a record £513 million. The quantity caught also increased, by nearly a third, with a total of 480,400 tonnes brought ashore in 2014.
“Quotas were lowered to let stocks recover”Bertie Armstrong, SFF
Mackerel continued to be the most valuable stock, accounting for £195m of Scottish landings, followed by langoustines, which made up half of the total shellfish catch and saw a 15 per cent rise in value to £75m.
A massive 63 per cent increase in the quantity of pelagic fish netted was a key driver of the trend, helping towards a rise in value of 44 per cent for species such as mackerel and herring. The value of demersal and shellfish landings also rose, although there were smaller catches in both categories.
Demersal species, including haddock, monkfish and cod, saw a 3 per cent increase in total value, despite a 13 per cent fall in the amount caught. For shellfish there was a 9 per cent jump in value, set against a 1 per cent overall drop in volume.
The record-breaking results were achieved during challenging market conditions as a result of sanctions against Russia.
Scotland’s fishing sector has shrunk by two thirds in the past 40 years, but industry leaders say the report shows measures to safeguard stocks are working and mean Scotland’s fisheries could be on the brink of a “sustainable” new dawn. “In general terms everything is on the up,” said Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation. “Quotas were lowered to let stocks recover. That is now happily starting to happen and we hope there is sunshine ahead. The whole industry turns on healthy stocks and that is roughly what we’ve got. The Scottish fishing industry has a history that goes much deeper that being just a job.
“There are generation after generation of families who will do the most extraordinary things to keep going in fishing.
“But there is still a great big challenge to be faced. There is a pathway to go down and we are just at the beginning of it now.”
Scottish fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The fishing industry is very important to Scotland’s economy and contributes over £500m in revenues a year. It is encouraging to see that the value of the Scottish catch is at a record high and the volume of fish landed has increased by over 30 per cent.
“These figures bring confidence for the future and I’m hopeful that we can see revenues grow further, adding to fishermen’s bottom line and creating further good-quality jobs.”
But Mr Armstrong insists the future of the industry could hinge on a “practical” approach to a new discard ban, due to come into force next year.