Scotland’s seafood landings hit 10-year high

The value of Scottish seafood landings last year rose to their highest levels in a decade while the number of vessels and employed fishermen dropped to the lowest seen in 10 years.

New figures published by the country's chief statistician claim landings hit GBP 443 million in 2009, a 10 percent hike in value over the previous year while the volume of landings crept up by 2 percent over the previous year to 378,000 metric tons.

Mackerel overtook nephrops as the Scottish fleet's most valuable landed species in 2009.

While Scotland's fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead welcomed the figures, he cautioned the statistics should not "mask the very real challenges facing the whitefish sector and some of our shellfish sectors" in the forthcoming months.

The Sea Fisheries Statistics report revealed a mixed picture for pelagic, demersal and shellfish landings, but largely, the three species groupings each contributed approximately one third of the total value for overall Scottish landings.

And while volumes for the pelagic species actually shrunk by 1 percent from the previous year, they rose in value by a hefty 47 percent in real terms (not due to inflation). The fuller figures are primarily attributed to the 10 percent growth of the average price per metric ton of mackerel. A 39 percent rise in mackerel volume landed by the Scottish fleet also fed into the figure rise.

Despite a 9 percent decrease in shellfish prices between 2008 and 2009, shellfish landings made up 32 percent by value of all landings by Scottish-based vessels in 2009, with a total value of GBP 143 million for 69,000 metric tons landed.

The volume of shellfish landings increased by 7 percent between 2008 and 2009, contributing 18 percent to the overall landings volume.

And demersal species’ value rose by 5 percent to GBP 149 million for 103,000 metric tons landed, making up 34 percent of the value total for Scottish landings and 27 percent by volume.

Pelagic species hit GBP 151 million in value for 205,000 metric tons landed, feeding 34 percent in value into the total for Scottish landings.

Despite “the smallest fleet size ever recorded” for Scotland, both value and volumes increased in 2009. Last year the number of active fishing vessels based in Scotland stood at 2,174 vessels, including 691 over-10-meter vessels, itself a decrease of 27 percent since 200. The number of employed fishermen stood at 5,409 again, the lowest level ever recorded, according to the statistics.

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