'Signs of recovery' for fishing in Firth of Clyde
Fish stocks in the Firth of Clyde are showing some signs of recovery, according to a new study.
Analysis by Marine Scotland showed that although the Clyde has been impacted by years of intensive trawler fishing the ecosystem remains resilient.
Researchers found the total weight of white fish species is now twice as great as in the 1930s and 1940s.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said the Clyde could "once again be a national asset".
The Clyde Ecosystem Review was produced by Marine Scotland Science and pools together research sources and survey data to provide an assessment of the current state of fisheries in the Firth of Clyde.
The report also showed that the ecosystem had been altered by fishing, resulting in many more smaller fish - particularly young whiting - and a lack of larger predator species.
End Quote Richard Lochhead Fisheries Secretary
What this report indicates is that with careful, collective management it may be possible to improve biodiversity and nurture the Firth back to a more diverse fishery”
The study found that in the period 1990-2009, the total weight white fish species - such as cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, hake and plaice - was more than 8,000 tonnes. This compares to about 4,000 tonnes or less in the period 1930-1949.
Although the weight of fish is now much larger the report did highlight that one species, whiting, makes up 72%.
About 85% of the total weight of fish is also less than the legal minimum landing size.
The report said that while not yet a healthy fish population, the Clyde ecosystem is still active and productive, with the potential to be restored.
Mr Lochhead said: "The Firth of Clyde has been a rich and productive fishing ground for Scottish fishermen for hundreds of years, however intensive fishing in the twentieth century has made an impact.
"Therefore it's very encouraging that this new report reveals a remarkably resilient ecosystem, which has shown recent signs recovery and continues to support fish populations.
"What this report indicates is that with careful, collective management it may be possible to improve biodiversity and nurture the Firth back to a more diverse fishery, able to support mature fish stocks that can be sustainably harvested."
He said the government now intended to engage with conservation bodies, fishermen and local communities to agree on a "shared vision" for the future of fishing on the Clyde.