Rockall and the Scottish haddock fishery

TitleRockall and the Scottish haddock fishery
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsNewton, AW, Peach, KJ, Coull, KA, Gault, M, Needle, C
JournalFisheries Research
Date Published11/2008

Rockall Bank, lying to the west of the Rockall Trough, has supported a fishery for more than 200 years. Whilst the Rockall grounds were opened up by cod fishermen, it has been the haddock fishery which has had the most economic significance with the stock being exploited historically by various nations but now fished mainly by the UK and Russia. Prosecution of this fishery has varied over time with resulting variable landings but the effort expended by the fishing fleets does not appear dependent on the size of the available haddock stock but more on other external considerations, e.g. politics, economics and the success, or otherwise, of ancillary fisheries such as squid. Due to the isolated position of the Bank the amount of scientific data gathered on Rockall haddock has been sparse and several erroneous assumptions concerning depth, and consequently spatial, distribution have been made. Recent investigations have improved the biological knowledge of the haddock stock but although this should lead to more robustness in stock assessment there are new uncertainties. Two main fleets now operate at Rockall–Russian vessels generally fishing with small mesh sizes (40–70 mm) and retaining all of the fish they catch and a European fleet using nets with cod-end meshes of 120 mm and above which entails some discarding. This dichotomy presents a challenge in providing accurate stock forecasts. In addition the regional regulatory authorities (EU and NEAFC) are introducing closed areas but it is unclear, given the sparse information available, whether the correct areas have been chosen and whether there can be effective surveillance of the closed areas.

Short TitleFisheries Research