Wildlife group pleased with fisheries progress

WILDLIFE experts have described 2011 as a “mixed year” for Scotland’s fish stocks and fishing industry.

The WWF said that, while quotas will be increased in 2012 for some Scottish stocks, including west coast haddock, it was disappointed that cod numbers had yet to recover sufficiently – despite the continued efforts of the industry.

This has resulted in cuts in the number of days vessels can spend at sea during the year.

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However, the conservation group said it was pleased that efforts to fish more responsibly, through the use of more selective gear and techniques that leave more fish in the sea, continued apace during 2011.

Dr Mireille Thom, WWF Scotland’s senior marine policy officer, said: “In the past year, fish landings by Scottish vessels amounted to £438 million, confirming the continued economic and social importance of the fishing industry in Scotland.

“While some fishing quotas are set to increase, 2011 was a bit of a mixed year for fish stocks and the fishing industry in Scotland.

“While we are disappointed that industry efforts to protect cod stocks are taking longer than hoped for, we are nevertheless pleased to see continued progress made towards more sustainable fishing practices in Scotland.

“As we go into 2012, it is essential that this momentum is not lost as the European Parliament debates reform of the rules governing fishing. Everyone agrees the current way of making decisions in the EU on fishing is well past its sell-by date.

“It’s crucial that industry, scientists, government and other stakeholders continue to work together to protect and grow Scotland’s fish stocks. The future of Scotland’s fishing industry depends on today’s actions.”