Scotland investigates low prawn landings


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
May 22, 2013

A recent article published by the Scottish government speculates that various environmental factors may be playing a role in the drop-off in volume of prawns landed by the Fladens fishery in 2012 and the first few months of 2013.

The Scottish government ordered an overview after reports from the first four months of 2013 showed a 52 percent decrease in landings of prawns over the same period in 2012. The decrease represents an 11-year low for the number of metric tons of prawns caught, and it follows another poor year for landings in 2012.

The article, produced by Marine Scotland, the government agency tasked with monitoring Scottish waters, indicated “it is not clear precisely” why there has been such a decline.

But the article, using the proper term “nephrops” to describe the prawns, cited changes in the environment as a possible factor.

“Recent unusual environmental conditions appear to be limiting the emergence of the nephrops from the burrows in which they live — this in turn is limiting the opportunities for a fishery,” said Nick Bailey, the Marine Scotland scientist who wrote the article. “The reasons for this are unclear, but this may be because of lower than usual water temperatures or prolonged spells of severe weather in the winter which have affected the hydrodynamics of the region.”

Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s fishing minister, said whatever the cause, the government hopes the problem is temporary, given the importance of the prawn fishery to Scotland’s seafood industry.

“Environmental phenomena which disrupt fishing activities occur from time to time and so it is hoped this will be a short-term problem, but it is an anxious wait for our fishermen to see if the prawns ‘come on’ and the situation improves for them in the near future,” Lochhead said.

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