Leading scientist debates future of fisheries

Leading scientist debates future of fisheries

North east fishing leaders will today get an insight into what America and other countries are doing to conserve their fish stocks.

The overview will be delivered by internationally renowned fisheries expert Professor Ray Hilborn when he gives a lecture this afternoon at the University of Aberdeen to an audience of academics and fishing industry representatives.

The Professor of Fisheries Management from the University of Washington will review the state of fisheries in a number of places around the world and explore what is going well and what is failing.

An adviser to several international fisheries commissions and specialist in conservation, fisheries stock assessment and risk analysis, Professor Hilborn will also consider the futures for both the ecosystems and fishing communities.

Professor Hilborn gave a brief preview of his talk The future of marine fisheries – will it be ecosystem collapses or sustainable ecosystems, and what will happen to fishing communities?

He said: "The bottom line is that under current approaches in the US and elsewhere, the future for marine ecosystems is getting brighter, fishing mortality rates are being lowered and stocks and ecosystems are rebuilding.

"The impact on fishing communities has been very negative and with the current emphasis on rebuilding fish stocks, at almost any cost, many communities are in deep trouble.

"The competitiveness of world fisheries is such that fishing fleets must be efficient, and this means less labour, and by implication significant declines in fishing employment.

"Internationalisation of processing means more and more processing jobs are moving offshore.  I will offer some prospects for maintaining fishing communities, but it will require quite radical changes in fisheries policy."

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion with Professor Robin Cook, Director of the FRS Marine Laboratory; Mike Park, Executive Chairman of the Scottish Whitefish Producers Association, and Mark Tasker, Head of Marine Advice, Joint Conservation Committee.

The event, which has been sponsored by the University of Aberdeen's Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, has been organised by Dr Tara Marshall.

She said: "Professor Hilborn is one of the world's foremost fisheries scientists. Rationality and scientific rigour are hallmarks of his approach to sustainable resource management. His experience is highly relevant to issues currently facing Scottish fisheries."