We crashed the stocks says fisheries leader

From the Daily Telegraph

Mike Park was 21 when he skippered his first fishing boat. Back then, in the early 1980s, he recalls, Scottish fishermen landed 120,000 tons of cod a year. Now the catch has slumped to just 15,000 tons. So far, so familiar: the world’s oceans are full of collapsed, over-exploited fisheries.

But Park – now chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, the largest fishermen’s body in Europe – is heading a remarkable rescue bid that has doubled the number of cod in the country’s waters in just six years.

“We crashed the stocks,” he says. “Now we are rebuilding them.”

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Unfortunately this is nothing new – Mike Park and Bertie Armstrong in Oct 2007

“35 years ago there was a significant increase in cod stocks – the so called “gadoid outburst”; Mr Armstrong pointed out “… that the way of making more money was volume: the more fish you caught, the more you got…” and “…. how you upped your income was just to catch more black. The accusations of over-fishing then was a fair one.”

Mike Park, himself a veteran North Sea skipper and chairman , recognized “… there was a situation where we took what we could, rather than take what we should ..” and that even into the new millennium fishermen were making money illegally.

So after 4 1/2 years they are proud that landings have gone from 15,000 to 30,000 tons yet 93% of cod are caught by the commercial sector before they have had a chance to breed. A doubling of stocks from a ‘rock bottom’ level’ is not such a big deal, making anything like the substantial improvement required will take consistent effort over many years and each year at the EU talks there will be the usual clamour for extra TAC as stocks will have improved.

The leaders say they believe there is no room for short-term profiteering – yet whitefish stocks in the Clyde are being sacrificed on the high altar of nephrops.

Will these ‘leaders’ ever publicly recognize the error of their ways ?  Will they apologize ?

Will they ever agree to non-commercial activities having some input to inshore stock management ?

Not whilst the politicians and fisheries managers run scared !

Category: Commercial

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