Climate Change & Our Seafood Industry

fishing-mackerelScotland may have been enjoying one of its warmest summers since 1976 but there are longer term changes to our weather which will affect more than tanning ourselves in the back garden. The warming of the seas around our coasts and the increasing frequency of storms will affect Scotland’s fishing industry according to the **Seafish/*MCCIP Watching Brief Report 2017 .

2013-14 was the stormiest for 66 years of record keeping according to the UK Met Office. This caused huge disruption to fishing at the time with ports in the south of England particularly affected.

“Projections from climate modellers suggest that extreme wind speeds will increase (in occurrence and severity) over the United Kingdom during the coming century and therefore that UK fisheries will face increasing levels of disruption in the future.”

Rises in sea temperature affects the movement of fish and other marine animals including the spawning grounds of fish. The EU funds research into the movement of fish stocks:

“Eight species (anchovy, cod, hake, herring, mackerel, plaice, horse mackerel, and common sole) have shifted their distribution …since 1985.”

with the greatest shift being for mackerel and hake.

Fishing  regulations and agreements are not keeping pace with the changes in the movement of fish  the report states. This results in weaker management of fish stocks.

“International agreements governing shared stocks are not keeping pace with changes in the water, with even well-defined international fisheries agreements not resilient to unanticipated change, nor ready to adapt when political interests override sustainability.”

The movement north by many of the species combined with the uncertainties now hanging over the Scottish fishing industry with Brexit makes future negotiations over the quotas allocated crucial to Scotland’s economy.

Fishing is a much more important industry to Scotland than to the other nations of the UK. It is of crucial importance for our islands and  our fragile coastal communities where fishing has sustained a way of life for generations.

map of international boundaries

Map of international boundaries by Andmoreagain0815

The UK leaving the EU also affects the valuable collaborative research projects which have been undertaken. Will the UK still be participating in these and if so how will they be funded? It is only a matter of months now till the UK exits the EU and negotiations over Scotland’s valuable resource rich fishing grounds are in the hands of a Tory Government which is floundering from one crisis to the next – still unprepared for Brexit.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

*MCCIP = Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership

**Seafish =  is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) set up by the Fisheries Act 1981 to improve efficiency and raise standards across the seafood industry.


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