A Shetland-based group of fishermen and scientists has been awarded £125,000 for a study that will compare industry and scientific perceptions of northern North Sea whiting, a species which is worth over £8 million to Scottish vessels.
The money comes as part of a Marine Scotland package to boost the conservation credentials of Scotland’s fishing sector. Funding of £243,000 has been allocated to the Scottish Industry/Science Partnership (SISP) for five projects covering the Firth of Forth, Western Isles, east coast, west coast and the northern North Sea.
A further £49,000 will go towards the collation of data on ling. The partners for both these projects include the NAFC Marine Centre, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Shetland Fishermen’s Association and Orkney Fisheries Association.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association chairman Leslie Tait said: “I am delighted the project is going ahead. Shetland fishermen have been reporting large and increasing abundances of whiting in the waters around Shetland. I am hopeful that this study can help illustrate why there is a different perception of the stock and bring scientists and fishermen closer together.”
In the Western Isles, the effects of mesh size and escape panels on catch composition in the nephrops creel fishery will be investigated thanks to funding of £14,000 and a project in Shetland will receive £5,000 to study the biological and economic impacts of the size of escape gaps in creels for velvet crabs.
Announcing the successful projects, fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The standard of applications this year was extremely high. The partnership continues to generate innovative research programmes which give fishermen a vital input.
“Tapping into the experience, knowledge and understanding of Scottish fishermen has undoubtedly produced results and I wish the successful applicants every success with their projects.
“This funding can enhance Scotland’s impressive conservation credentials, and help bridge the gap between fisheries scientists and the catching sector.
“The partnership is playing an increasingly important role in supporting and developing the sea fisheries industry. The information gathered is a vital source of information for the industry Scotland-wide.”