Independent Inquiry into Crisis in Scottish Fishing Industry to take Evidence in Stornoway

Independent Inquiry into Crisis in Scottish Fishing Industry to take Evidence in Stornoway

Members of the independent Committee set up by The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) to examine the issues underlying the crisis in the Scottish Fishing Industry is to take evidence in Stornoway from a broad range of individuals and organisations connected with the industry. The Committee will take evidence in private today, Friday 21 November.

A Media Question & Answer Session will be held at 13.40 at the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Offices on Friday 21 November to which you are cordially invited. Still or TV pictures may be taken at this time. None of the committee members have Gaelic

The Independent RSE Committee’s Programme:

Friday 21 November
13.00     Lunch at the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Offices
13.40     Media Q & A
14.00     Meeting with Mr Duncan MacInnes,Western Isles Fishermen's Association, and other representatives of the fish catching sector
15.00     Meeting with members of the local processing industry, including Scottish Seafoods Ltd, the Stornoway Fishermen's Co-operative Ltd and the Western Isles Aquaculture Association
16.00     Meeting with the Fisheries Joint Consultative Committee
17.00     Meeting close

Notes for Editors:

The Inquiry

Instigated by the Council of The Royal Society of Edinburgh and Chaired by the distinguished Biologist, Sir David Smith, The RSE’s independent inquiry seeks to identify what steps might be taken to secure the future of the fishing industry in Scotland. The Inquiry’s principal objective is to make an assessment of the extent to which controls imposed on the Scottish fishing industry are scientifically robust. Scotland has the largest part of the United Kingdom’s sea fishing industry and many of Scotland’s more remote communities, especially around the North East coast and in Shetland, are heavily dependent on it for their livelihood. Concerns over declining fish stocks, especially of cod, have led to severe restrictions being imposed under the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and concerns exist over the long-term viability of the Scottish fishing industry. The Committee met for the first time on Tuesday 27 May 2003 at The Royal Society of Edinburgh 22-26 George Street Edinburgh and is expected to reach its conclusions by Christmas 2003, when its findings and recommendations will be made widely available.

The Committee has traveled to the North East of Scotland to Shetland, Inverness, Pittenweem and Copenhagen to take evidence from broad range of individuals and organisations connected with the industry.

The membership of the Committee, with expertise in marine biology, fish stocks, environmental issues, statistical modelling, social science, business and economics includes:

    * Sir David Smith FRS FRSE, (Chairman) former Principal and Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh University and former President of Wolfson College, Oxford
    * Professor Ian Boyd FRSE, Director of the NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St. Andrews
    * Professor Stephen Buckland, Professor of Statistics and Director of the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, University of St. Andrews
    * Mr Edward Cunningham CBE FRSE, Chairman, Business Options Ltd
    * Professor Gavin McCrone CB FRSE, Professor in Business Studies, University of Edinburgh
    * Dr Malcolm MacGarvin Environmental Consultant & Company Director
    * Professor Alasdair McIntyre CBE FRSE, Former Chief Scientific Officer, DAFS Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen
    * Professor Monty Priede FRSE, Professor of Zoology, University of Aberdeen
    * Professor Randolph Richards, Director of the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling
    * Mr David Symes, formerly Fisheries Management & European Policy, University of Hull

The remit of the inquiry includes:

    * an assessment of the scientific approach and the level of scientific support underlying present and likely future controls imposed on the Scottish fishing industry, including: a comparison with other fishing nations; the impact of improvements in catching technology; and the effects of practices such as industrial fishing
    * a consideration of role of aquaculture in the industry, and especially in terms of its potential for replacing some of the reduction in the catch of fish such as cod
    * a critical examination of the socio-economic impact of the declining fish catches and of the controls on the industry on the Scottish communities affected (including relevant sectors of the fish processing industry) with particular reference to the likely effects of the control measures now being implemented
    * the formation of recommendations on how a viable sea fishing industry can best be maintained in Scotland.

The Committee has welcomed written evidence from informed organisations and individuals on the following questions:

   1. What should be the objectives of fisheries management in Scotland? What mechanisms need to be put in place to achieve those objectives?
   2. How satisfactory is the science and scientific advisory structures, underlying the present controls of Scottish fisheries through the CFP and/or domestic fishing policy? Is the scientific information sufficiently robust to allow sound and effective conservation measures to be built upon them?
   3. How have improvements in fish catching technology affected Scottish fisheries?
   4. In its roadmap for the reform of the CFP, the Commission of the European Communities states that one of its aims is to move towards an ecosystem based approach to fisheries management. What will this involve, and how will the scientific approach to this be developed?
   5. What additional or alternative measures should be put in place to assist the recovery of whitefish stocks and thereafter to maintain a viable and sustainable fishery?
   6. What is the role of aquaculture, in terms of cod in particular, in reducing pressure on white fish stocks?
   7. How are the Scottish fishing and fish processing industries adapting to the reduction in fishing opportunities for staple whitefish species?
   8. What actions should be taken to ensure the sustainability of fisheries not presently regulated under the CFP?
   9. What particular economic and social effects have the recent declines in whitefish catches had on Scottish coastal communities? How are they likely to be affected by current measures to regulate the fisheries? What actions can national and local authorities in Scotland take to offset the effects of declining fishing opportunities on fishing dependent regions and fishing communities?
  10. What lessons can be learned from the management practices and scientific support systems in other fishing nations?


The Chair and Members of the RSE’s independent Committee are giving their time to the work of the Inquiry voluntarily, without any charge. The RSE acknowledges financial donations towards the Inquiry from:

    * Aberdeen City Council
    * Aberdeenshire Council
    * J Sainsbury plc
    * Scottish Enterprise Grampian
    * Shetland Island Council
    * The Clydesdale Bank
    * The Western Isles Council
    * Shell Exploration & Production


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