The Scottish fishing industry’s two largest fishing associations have strongly criticised ICES advice for cuts of 10.3% to North Sea cod and 20% to west cast saithe TACs for 2022.
ICES is also advising increases of 154% for North Sea and west coast haddock, and 236% for North Sea whiting.
The Shetland Fishermen’s Association and the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association state that the whole approach is flawed and in need of substantive reform.
‘It is very clear that ICES has not kept up with changes in the ecosystem, such as the migration of cod stocks which appears to be being driven by climate change. The SWFPA and SFA ask the Scottish Government to take seriously their suggestion of an independent panel to assess these numbers and put them into proper perspective,’ said Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association.
‘It is also time for urgent engagement by both the Scottish and UK governments with industry on this issue. There is no point in advising large increases in quotas for some stocks when absurdly small quotas for others caught at the same time prevent vessels from going to sea. Fish don’t swim together in neat shoals of their own species.’
According to Simon Collins of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, the ICES numbers are out of sync with what fishermen are seeing on the grounds.
‘With such wild swings in both directions a regular occurrence in recent years, it is clear that ICES needs to take a good hard look at the process and consider whether its modelling is still relevant,’ he commented.
‘At the same time, our governments need to ask themselves whether they are willing to create insoluble problems for our fishing fleet simply a computer says so. The computer has often been wrong in the past, and in terms of cod at least it is catastrophically wrong now.’