The value of fish landed in Scotland has reached the highest level this century, despite the number of boats and fishermen hitting record lows.
Nearly 360,000 tonnes of fish was landed by the Scots fleet worth £501m, an increase of 13% on last year.
The value of pelagic species like mackerel increased by 39% and shellfish by 5% percent.
Industry leaders say the financial figures mask the economic difficulties being faced by trawlermen facing huge increases in costs.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said:
“Although these statistics show an increase of 13% in the value of fish landed, the main reason for this is down to the strong, and very welcome, global demand for mackerel.
“However, income and profitability are two very different things. The reality is that most of our fleet is facing severe economic and cost pressures, including the soaring price of fuel, the extra costs required to meet a whole range of complex technical regulations, and the disruption of fishing patterns caused by days-at-sea restrictions. The prawn sector has also been hit by reduced demand in key European markets caused by the global recession.”
The number of active fishing vessels based in Scotland was 2,095 at the end of 2011, representing a decrease of 55 vessels on the previous year and the smallest number of vessels ever recorded.
Since the end of 2010, the number of over 10 metre vessels has decreased by 40 vessels to 625 vessels. There are 1,470 vessels in the under 10 metre fleet, a decrease of 15 vessels since 2010.
The number of fishermen employed in the Scottish catching sector was 4,996 in 2011, this represents a decrease of 4% compared to 2010 and is the lowest number ever recorded.
Mr Armstrong added: “The decrease of 55 vessels in the Scottish fleet and the decline in employment to the lowest ever recorded levels in the catching sector compared with 2010 portrays a much more accurate reflection of the severe pressures facing the fishing industry today and highlights the dysfunctional regulations that we are having to endure. This is why the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy must deliver a management regime that will secure a sustainable and profitable future of the fleet.”
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