The Clyde–lessons will be learnt ?

| January 3, 2012

Trawling for demersal fish species and nephrops has been responsible for the depletion of many key stocks in the Clyde.

Prior to 1960, it has been calculated that 10 key whitefish species made up around 70% of the stocks in the Clyde and supported a viable fishery. Contrast that to today when 70% of all fish are undersized whiting and the only demersal fish landed are those taken as by-catch in the trawl fishery for nephrops.

How did this come about ?

The Clyde had several breeding whitefish populations which were distinct from those in neighbouring shelf regions and thus susceptible to the local impacts of commercial fishing activities. Of course, once the bans on trawling were lifted in the 1960s and 1980s, and trawling was allowed to take place without restriction, stocks of all white fish were quickly depleted and by 2005 the targeted white fish fishery ceased.

What is not often as well known is that in the same time period, the other 30% (by weight) of all demersal fish in the Clyde were made up of spurdog, thornback ray and tope - stocks of these species have been reduced to being much the exception due to excessive exploitation, being killed for pot bait or as discards and as a consequence of the depletion of the very food stocks they were dependent on.

Is there any real hope that the situation can be turned around and the Clyde once more contain good sized white fish and members of the shark family - given statements from within the commercial sector such as “our members do not want to see white fish in the Clyde” along with a lack of recognition and any decisive action by fisheries managers and politicians - it would seem very unlikely.

Which once again shows that ‘Lessons will be learnt’ is no more than a standard phrase which is patently rubbish.

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