Monkfish Catch Rates by Shetland Fishing Boats in 2021 and 2022

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Abstract

A basic analysis of logbook data from nine Shetland fishing boats has been carried out to investigate whether they provided any evidence to confirm anecdotal reports from fishermen of an increase in catch rates of monkfish in the waters around Shetland during the early part of 2022. Statistical analyses found that the monkfish catch rates of three of the boats included in the analysis were significantly higher during the first six months of 2022 than during the same period of 2021. The catch rates of five of the remaining boats were not significantly different (and not significantly less).
If the monkfish catch rate is assumed to reflect their abundance, then these results suggest that monkfish were at least as abundant (certainly no less abundant) around Shetland during the first half of 2022 as during the same period of 2021.
Monkfish are caught within a mixed demersal fishery and data from this fishery reflects its complexity. In addition to variations in fish movements, aggregations and abundances, there are multiple factors that may influence the fishing choices of individual skippers who work to maximise their fishing opportunities within the restraints of multiple limited quotas. As a result, they may switch between target species or fishing areas in response to any of the catch related variations and/or in response to many other factors including fluctuating market prices, weather conditions and fuel prices.
Bearing in mind that quota availability for Shetland whitefish boats is managed over periods of between one and three months and that available quota will limit total catches, there is a suggestion that fishermen responded to the perceived increase in monkfish abundance by altering their fishing behaviour. As a result, higher catch rates did not necessarily translate into substantially greater total catches of monkfish over the period studied.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUHI Shetland
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2022

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