Shetland MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat Beatrice Wishart, during a session of the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee, has asked panellists about the impact of Climate Change on the movement of fish stocks such as cod. Ms Wishart raised the concerns of fishermen that North Sea cod is in abundance while data gathered by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) indicated fewer cod, and therefore point towards a lower Total Allowable Catch (TAC).
Panellist, Dr Tara Marshall, Senior Lecturer in Fisheries Science at the University of Aberdeen, indicated that there are questions over research vessels adequately capturing data. Suggesting that there is progress in addressing this between Marine Scotland, the fishing industry and available scientists, Dr Marshall pointed to further inclusion of the industry as a positive way to address the issue.
Last week Ms Wishart raised the concerns of Shetland’s fishing fleet during a debate in the Scottish Parliament in a Scottish Government debate on 2021 Coastal States Negotiations outlining to the Cabinet Secretary reasons to increase cod quotas. She also highlighted the view of local fishermen that they are unfairly targeted by fisheries protection vessels compared to those from non-UK countries. Ms Wishart also encouraged the consideration of holding at least one round of Coastal States talks in Shetland, the heart of Scotland’s richest fishing grounds.
After the Committee Ms Wishart said:
“I am hearing that the science and the reality on the fishing grounds do not match up. We need a system that is in tune with reality and instils confidence in those governed by it.
“To help address the need for more robust and real time data gathering, closer working between stakeholders can only be a positive move.
“One thing is certain, we cannot wait years and have vessels forced back to shore facing bankruptcy before this is addressed. Shetland relies on the seas, and those working on and around it. I will continue to voice the concerns of industry.”
Notes to Editors
Ms Wishart’s question can been seen here.