West coast ‘important’ herring ground

A SURVEY to assess herring stocks to the west of Scotland has found that the area to the west of Melvaig, Wester Ross, holds some importance as a winter/spring spawning ground according to the website fishupdate.com

The international, multi-partner survey – led by marine scientists Dr Steven Mackinson of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA), along with the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) and Marine Scotland – investigated the composition of herring stocks on fishing grounds off the west coast.

Using fishing vessels as ‘research platforms’, the scientists used a combination of acoustic data and catch sampling to estimate the abundance of herring and investigate whether stocks in this fishing zone are different from those further south.

Such data will contribute to the international stock assessment process carried out by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

As part of the survey, an investigation was mounted to assess the scope and scale of winter/spring spawning herring in some parts of the area.

Since there is no directed fishery and only limited scientific surveying at this time of year, the status of the spawning stock and their contribution to the total west of Scotland herring population is unknown.

Dr Mackinson and David Bellany, of the Fraserburgh registered fishing vessel Unity, took to the water from February 15-25 in search of winter/spring spawning herring.

Joined by scientific samplers from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and the University of Aberdeen, their mission was to map the distribution and relative abundance of herring and try to catch some spawning fish from which to take biological and genetic samples.

A large area was surveyed, and some spawning fish was found near Melvaig, but few herring in other areas.

Biological sampling showed the herring from the three scientific hauls were different in length, the smallest east of Cape Wrath, and those at Melvaig the largest of them all.

The samples were taken back to the Marine Scotland lab where they will be analysed to distinguish differences from autumn spawners and herring stocks in neighbouring areas.

Dr Mackinson said: ‘Due to constraints on resources, there is often a shortfall in information from marine scientific surveys carried out by national governments.

‘It therefore makes good sense for the fishing industry to contribute to the scientific process. The scope of the activities of our fishing boats, and the wide sea area they cover, offers the ideal platform for collecting relevant marine data that might otherwise not be possible.

‘There is evidence from the past that the area off Melvaig was used by herring as both a spawning and nursery area, and our survey would seem to indicate that this is still the case.

‘The information we have gathered will help contribute to understanding the structure and health of the herring stocks in the area, and its relevance to establishing the effective rebuilding of the herring population and the development of fisheries management plans to aid this process.’


Related Post


Vopnafjörður factory ready for mackerel season

‘We took delivery of some mackerel last week, mixed with herring, and we have tuned all of the machines. Yesterday we had a landing of 600...


Total catch in June was 47...

The total catch of Icelandic vessels in June was 47.227 tonnes, a 11% decrease from June 2017. Demersal catch was just over 32 thousand tonn...


Saucy Fish lift for frozen sales

THE award winning Saucy Fish brand has given frozen seafood sales a huge boost in many of Britain’s best known supermarkets. The business,...

Leave us a comment