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National Indicator: Marine Environment

l Improve the state of Scotland's marine environment

Indicator Measure
Proportion of key Scottish commercial species landed by Scottish fishing vessels where the TAC limit is consistent with the scientific guidance, calculated over a centred three year average

Current Status
The percentage (calculated as a three-year moving average) of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks where TAC was set in line with scientific guidance currently stands at 62 per cent. This is 8 percentage points below the 2016 target level. The value of the indicator has increased by 1 percentage points between 2015 and 2016.

Marine environment graph

* Please note:
(1): Stocks for which there was no available advice for the year, or where the advice was unclear, have been counted as if the TAC was not consistent with the advice.
(2): For each year, the calculation of the proportion of fish stocks used data weighted by value for that year.
(3): Each point on the graph refers to the proportion of fish stocks where the TAC was set within scientific advice calculated over the three year period centred on that year.

Source: Marine Scotland
The data for this chart is available at the bottom of the page.

Last Update: 25 May 2017
Next Update: September 2017

Improve the state of Scotland's marine environment

Why is this National Indicator important?
What will influence this National Indicator?
What is the Government's role?
How is Scotland performing?
Criteria for recent change
Further information
Who are our partners?
Related Strategic Objectives

Why is this National Indicator important?

Marine Scotland's mission is to manage Scotland's seas, or its marine environment, for prosperity and environmental sustainability - supporting the SG's overall purpose of sustainable economic growth. Achieving and then maintaining healthy fish stocks is vital for us to deliver against this mission. Some of our key stocks have been at historically low levels in recent years. So if we are to ensure that these stocks are healthy and sustainable for future generations, as part of a sustainable wider marine environment, we need to continue tackling this problem. We do this by ensuring that when we decide on quotas we stay within the boundaries of scientific advice on the size of the stock ("full reproductive capacity") and the rate at which it should be fished ("harvested sustainably"). By fishing our key commercial stocks more sustainably, we will, in time, maximise sustainable returns from fishing.

What will influence this National Indicator?

Our ability to meet this indicator will depend on decisions taken in the meantime to fish our key stocks at sustainable levels and on the extent to which these decisions are complied with. On the former the Scottish Government will work primarily with European and other international partners; the latter will depend crucially on a continuing dialogue with the fishing sector on the important role of high levels of compliance in ensuring the sustainability of stocks.

Another factor will be the continued availability of high quality scientific advice, in particular from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). This body's scientists provide Member States, the European Commission and other important decision-making forums with independent advice on how best to manage their fish stocks and on the quota levels they should set. Other sources of scientific advice include the European Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries.

Environmental factors such as climate change may also be influential particularly if they have an impact on the numbers of fish recruited into the different fisheries.

What is the Government's role?

The indicator commits the Scottish Government to strive for European agreement on aligning fishing levels on key Scottish commercial stocks with the best scientific information available. The Scottish Government is represented in the European negotiations which develop long-term management plans and which decide the catch limits for the majority of these stocks. The Scottish Government also uses independent scientific advice, most often from ICES, to determine its priorities when negotiating catch limits for a number of fish stocks with other European countries. In addition, the Government monitors advice and data from sources including the renowned Marine Laboratory (now part of Marine Scotland) in Aberdeen, to ensure that sound conservation measures are implemented across the Scottish fleet. The Government also seeks to achieve high levels of compliance with the quotas set, partly through the work of Marine Scotland Compliance and partly through intensive dialogues with the sector.

How is Scotland performing?

In 2016, the proportion (calculated as a three-year moving average) of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks where the quota (Total Allowable Catch (TAC)) was set in line with scientific guidance was 62 per cent. In 2015, this figure was 61 per cent. The 1 percentage point increase in the proportion of fish stocks where quota was set in line with scientific guidance observed for 2016 compared with 2015 suggests performance has been maintained. The target for the indicator of 70% by 2016 has not been met. 

In 2016, all 13 stocks had TAC set in line with scientific advice. In 2017, 9 of the TACs for key fish stocks were set in line with scientific advice. For four key fish stocks, (North East Atlantic Mackerel, North Sea and West of Scotland Herring and North Sea cod), alternative TACs were set with careful consideration of stock trends and other catch options within the advice.

The data is available at the bottom of the page.

Criteria for recent change

The value of the indicator is calculated as “the percentage of the total value of key commercial sea fish stocks where the total allowable catch (TAC) limit is consistent with scientific advice”.  The target for this indicator is 70% by 2016.

The key commercial stocks included in the calculation are: North Sea Herring, West of Scotland Herring, Atlanto-Scandic Herring, North Sea Cod, West of Scotland Cod, North Sea Haddock, West of Scotland Haddock, Rockall Haddock, North Sea Monkfish, West of Scotland Monkfish, North Sea Nephrops, West of Scotland Nephrops and North-East Atlantic Mackerel.

The value for the indicator is calculated each year on a centred three-year average to smooth out year to year fluctuations in TAC setting decisions. The calculation weights each of the key commercial stocks by its share in the total value for relevant stocks.  Thus:

Indicator = ((value of catch landed by Scottish fishing vessels of key Scottish stocks where the TAC limit is consistent with the scientific guidance) / (total value of all the key Scottish stocks landed by Scottish vessels)) multiplied by 100, calculated on a centred three-year average.

By calculating a three year centred average, the indicator value for 2016 uses data for 2015, 2016 and 2017 (as noted above, this is to smooth out year to year fluctuations in TAC setting decisions). 

Changes in the indicator from one year to the next can occur due to changes in whether the TAC for each stock was set within the scientific guidance, and/or changes in the weightings due to use of landings data for a different year.

If the latest value is within +/- 3 percentage points of the previous year’s value, performance is assessed as “maintained”.  If it is more than 3 percentage point above (below) the previous value, performance is assessed as improving (worsening).

The indicator is updated twice each year to reflect;

  1. publication of provisional of data on the value of landings and new TAC limits being set (in May),

  2. publication of final dataon the value of landings (in September).

     

For further information and worked examples of how the indicator is calculated please contact fisheriesstatistics@gov.scot.

* See the technical note for a list of Scotland's key commercial fish stocks

Further Information

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Who are our partners?

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

European Commission

International Council for the Exploration of the Seas

Related Strategic Objectives

Wealthier and Fairer

Greener

View National Indicator Data

Downloadable document:

Title:Improve the state of Scotland's marine environment
Description:Improve the state of Scotland's marine environment
File:Marine Environment [XLSX, 18.0 kb: 22 May 2017]
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