James Anderson chair of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association has welcomed the outcome of the UK-EU-Norway negotiations on fishing opportunities for 2024
Fishermen in Shetland today welcomed widespread quota increases next year, reflecting the excellent health of the abundant seas around their isles.
Following scientific advice, government negotiators have concluded the total catches to be permitted next year for commercially important fish stocks – such as whiting (+124%), haddock (+74%), herring (+29%), saithe (+25%) and cod (+15%)*.
James Anderson, skipper of the whitefish vessel Alison Kay (LK57), and chair of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, said that quota increases across all of these fish stocks was a statement of confidence in the condition of Scotland’s seas.
“These 2024 quota increases are very much welcomed by Shetland’s family-owned fishing fleet, and should be welcomed by everyone – not just for the benefits that fishing brings to our islands, but for what it tells us about the state of our seas: the reality is that fish stocks are thriving.
These quota increases – based on scientific stock assessments – run contrary to the narrative of decline and despair that is often voiced by anti-fishing campaigners for their own political purposes.”
Daniel Lawson, Executive Officer with the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, said that industry priorities had been recognised by UK and Scottish Government negotiators.
“The few stocks that we do see quota cuts for next year – such as ling, lemon sole and hake – are all classed as ‘data deficient’ by scientists, and so cannot be properly assessed. This traps them in a cycle of precautionary quota cuts that do not necessarily reflect the true state of the stock. Mairi Gougeon – the Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary – recently made a welcome commitment to tackling this data deficient status. Shetland’s fishermen will do all that they can to assist in this vital work, and have already embarked on a study – in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands – to better assess ling stocks.
“The Scottish Government negotiators have worked hard in our national interest. We will continue to argue that the true economic and social potential of these fish stocks can only be reached if fishing crews are allowed to continue catching them efficiently and without undue obstruction.
“All in all, these quota increases show the sustainable nature of our highly regulated fishing fleet, and fishermen look forward to continuing collaborative work with government to ensure that this endures for the future.”
The increased quotas for 2024 build on a general trend of growth in fish stocks around Shetland, with principal whitefish populations in the North Sea having more than doubled since the year 2000.
Source: Press Release