The Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) and the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA) are to fund additional surveys of North Sea stocks as anger grows over the failure to tackle the issue of poor science.
The two organisations’ members between them account for over 80% of the UK’s whitefish catches. They plan to approach international partners in both Norway and Denmark to ensure the work covers the entire Northern North Sea, to organise rigorous, transparent studies of key fish stocks that are fit for purpose.
Skippers from both associations met in Aberdeen last week to explore a new initiative amid what they describe as indifference from the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and fisheries managers towards the urgent need for reform.
‘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,’ said James Anderson, chairman of the SFA and skipper of Alison Kay LK-57.
‘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.’
‘We are in a position where perfectly responsible businesses operating in highly productive waters with abundant fish are in serious danger,’ stated SWFPA chairman and skipper of Faithlie FR-220 Davie Milne.
‘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.’