Stark figures over fish caught by EU vessels revealed in new report

More than half of the fish and shellfish caught in Shetland waters is landed by EU fishing boats, while the local fleet gets less than one sixth. 

That is according to figures in a new report by Dr Ian Napier of the NAFC Marine Centre UHI.

The report says a third of all fish and shellfish landed from UK waters come from Shetland’s so-called “Exclusive Economic Zone” (EEZ). 

Drawing on official figures for an area of 127,000 kmaround Shetland, bounded by Faroese, Norwegian and the remainder of UK waters, Dr Napier calculated that local vessels landed 14 per cent of the fish and shellfish by weight and 21 per cent by value. 

But EU boats are said to have landed 56 per cent by weight and 38 per cent by value, with other UK vessels making up the remainder. 

Executive officer of Shetland Fishermen’s Association Simon Collins said:  “We’ve long known that Shetland’s waters are teeming with fish and that under the Common Fisheries Policy EU vessels are permitted to plunder our traditional fishing grounds. 

“What this report does is illustrate in detail just how bad the situation has become, and how severe the imbalance is. It serves as a reminder, if one were needed, to the UK’s Brexit negotiators that they must resist all attempts by the EU to maintain the status quo. 

“The UK must have control of its own waters and have the power to determine who gets access to our stocks.” 

In all, 450,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish worth £370m was landed from the “Shetland EEZ” by UK and EU boats annually from 2016 to 2018. 

On average, Shetland boats landed 120,000 tonnes worth £116m, 63,000 tonnes and £77m of which was caught in the “Shetland EEZ”. 

Pelagic fish dominated catches – four fifths (79 per cent) by weight and more than half (58 per cent) by value, with demersal fish accounting for 18 per cent by weight and 38 per cent by value. 

The “Shetland EEZ” accounts for 17 per cent of the UK EEZ and just over a quarter (27 per cent) of the Scottish part of the UK EEZ. 

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