The Scottish Fishing Industry has never been a priority to the UK Government, all that was proven when Prime Minister Ted Heath bargained it away in the Common Fisheries Policy when the UK entered what has now become the EU. Decimated over the decades due to a lack of interest by successive UK Governments the industry is now experiencing an upturn. The value of fish landings is at a record high, having increased by 29% to £563 million in 2016, according to the latest statistics published by the Scottish Government.
Fisheries Secretary in the Scottish Government, Fergus Ewing said:
“The fishing industry plays a key role in our rural economy. It supports jobs and businesses at sea but also in our coastal communities, and contributes significantly to Scotland’s world class food and drink success story. So it is encouraging to see increased landings of Nephrops (prawns), shellfish and demersal fish like cod, haddock, whiting and monkfish.”
The increase was mainly driven by a 41% increase in the value of landings for pelagic fish like herring and mackerel. Mackerel continues to be the most valuable stock.
There are 2,038 active Scottish registered fishing vessels which is a slight increase of 1% from 2015. The number of fishermen employed on Scottish fishing vessels has remained about the same at 4,823.
Pelagic & Demersal Landings
- Mackerel £169 million
- Herring £47 million
- Haddock £38 million
- Monkfish £35 million
- Cod £27 million
- Hake £18 million
- Saithe £8 million
- Whiting £8 million
- Plaice £7 million
- Ling £6 million
- Megrim £6 million
Shellfish landings were also successful with the total value increasing by 26% to £169 million.
- Nephrops (Norway Lobster/Langoustine) £79 million
- Scallops £37 million
The Scottish Government has also announced new pilot schemes which will look at ways of improving the management of inshore fisheries to ensure coastal communities make the most of their waters.
Commenting Fergus Ewing said:
“These pilots will investigate how we can best manage our inshore fisheries and whether there are new and innovative ways of sustainably maximising the benefits of the sector. Giving communities more management control gives them a sense of ownership and an opportunity to work together to find solutions that best meet their needs.”
“This work will help us improve our inshore fisheries while maintaining our diverse marine environment. Importantly it will make sure future strategies are based on better evidence, experience and understanding so our coastal communities can make the most of our inshore waters.”
The Scottish Government intends to work with the inshore fisheries industry over the coming weeks to identify areas which could host the pilots.
Many in the Scottish Fishing Industry voted to Leave the EU and with Brexit negotiations soon to commence after the General Election, Bertie Armstrong chief executive of the Scottish Fishermans Federation is looking for a better deal for fishing communities.
Bertie Armstrong said:
“The UK’s exit from the EU will free the industry from the straitjacket of the Common Fisheries Policy, which is a disastrous way to manage a national natural resource, and help to regenerate our coastal communities.”
Will Scottish fishing interests be a bargaining chip as it was with Ted Heath’s Tory Government? Whoever becomes the UK Prime Minister on June 9th – be it Corbyn or May – the days ahead for Scotland’s successful fishing industry are now very uncertain.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame