The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network

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Another Parliamentary Answer

John Scott (Ayr) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive what quantities of fish have been discarded annually since 2003 by the small mesh nephrops trawl fishery in the Clyde area and of what species the bulk of these discards were composed.


Mr Richard Lochhead:

The Scottish Government is not in a position to quantify with any certainty the overall amount of fish discarded annually in the Clyde by the small mesh Nephrops fishery. Discarded fish include small and unwanted commercial species, but also species which have no commercial value which are also taken by fishing gears.

Fisheries Research Services (FRS) runs an observer programme which is directed at estimating the discarded component of the main commercial species. That observer programme suggests that quantities of landings and discards of cod made by smaller meshed vessels are small in Area VIa particularly in the Clyde. The Clyde Cod closure which has run from 14 January to 30 April in the first quarter of the year is considered to be effective in protecting cod at a time when they are aggregating to spawn.

The observer programme also suggests that landings of haddock and whiting in the Clyde are also small, but discards of haddock and whiting are markedly higher than discards of cod and may be of the order of several hundred tonnes per year. The Scottish Government intends to work with the fishing industry and others to implement measures, in particular under the Conservation Credits scheme, to reduce such discards.

It still seems a shame to us that Mr Lochhead is fixated on cod - there haven’t been any numbers of cod in the Clyde for years; it’s quite true though that the landings of whiting have been small - 15+ million of them are discarded every year at an average weight of 2oz - well below the MLS !!

And by the way - other discards consist of species that do have a value to sea anglers and should not be depleted to the point of extinction, just because they are of no interest to the catching sector.

The Government has a duty of care for all species.

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