Scottish fishermen are set to fund additional surveys of North Sea stocks, as anger grows over the failure to tackle the issue of poor science.

The Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) and the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA), which together account for over 80% of the UK’s whitefish catches, will organise ‘rigorous, transparent studies of key fish stocks that are fit for purpose’.

The associations will reach out to international partners in both Norway and Denmark to ensure the work covers the entire northern North Sea.

Skippers from both associations met in Aberdeen at the start of February to explore this new initiative, amid indifference from ICES and fisheries managers towards the urgent need for reform.

James Anderson, chairman of the SFA and skipper of the Alison Kay LK 57, said: “Skippers are at the end of their tether – we’ve all had enough of a failed fisheries management system that is putting viable boats at risk.

“We have lost all faith in fisheries management but can’t afford to wait – so we are going to act with others to help fix it.

“Poor science really matters, because it leads to quota recommendations that bear no resemblance to the volume of fish on the ground.”

Davie Milne, SWFPA chairman and skipper of the Faithlie FR 220, added: “We are in a position where perfectly responsible businesses operating in highly productive waters with abundant fish are in serious danger.

“And all the while politicians hide behind the ‘best available science’. The science is actually the worst available science, because it comes from only one source.

“Government has abandoned its responsibility to provide appropriate and complete scientific data – so we will take that responsibility upon ourselves.”

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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