Fishermen are supporting scientists in conducting surveys of herring fishing grounds Photo: SPSGFishermen are supporting scientists in conducting surveys of herring fishing grounds Photo: SPSG

Fishermen are embracing the importance of marine science and becoming actively involved in the collection of data, says a chief scientist.

Dr Steven Mackinson, chief scientific officer of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said that fishermen are offering the use of their vessels as research platforms, facilitating the collection of large amounts of data enabling better management decisions and a more sustainable future for fisheries.

“This was no better illustrated than with a recent joint Scottish/Dutch acoustic and sampling survey on autumn spawning herring off the north coast of Scotland and to the west of Cape Wrath,” said Dr Mackinson.

“Since then, annual surveys have been carried out by Scottish and other nationality fishing vessels working in partnership with government marine science institutes to assess trends in the stock,” he added.

This year, the Shetland fishing vessel Charisma supported the Celtic Explorer of the Marine Institute, Galway, and the Marine Scotland Science vessel Scotia, during the international herring survey in July. This was followed-up in September by the Scottish fishing vessel Ocean Star and the Dutch vessel Alida working together to conduct further surveys on traditional herring spawning grounds in this area.

“We believe it is vital that such industry sampling continues next year so as to enable the seamless monitoring of the age structure of the herring stock, its spawning success and genetic identity,” said Dr Mackinson.

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