New fisheries boss says Clyde stock is ‘dangerously low’

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Fish stocks in the Clyde estuary are “running dangerously low”, according to one of the west coast’s most well-known fisheries managers.

Alex Watson Crook was speaking after being appointed by the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT) as a dedicated Firth of Clyde project co-ordinator, with the job of investigating how to restore dwindling fish stocks in the estuary.

The waters around Bute were once known as a prime location for commercial fishing - especially for herring - but overfishing and destructive practices caused an almost total collapse of the industry, to the point where white fish stocks are so low that they no longer merit economic assessment.

“Fish stocks are running dangerously low in the Clyde, with white fish being especially badly hit,” Ms Watson Crook said.

“Part of the challenge is to restore the Clyde’s white fish populations. The other essential task is to raise awareness about the scale of the problem facing the Clyde among the general public and fishermen.

“It is early days but any future management plan will have to have fisheries management tools along with biological and economic considerations at its heart.”

Ms Watson Crook has previously worked with the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency, the Solway Shellfish Management Association and the Clyde Inshore Fisheries Group.

Robert Younger, the chairman of SIFT, said: “We are delighted that Alex has joined SIFT as she brings with her a wealth of knowledge about Scottish fisheries management particularly in the south west.

“We believe that this expertise and her experience of working with fishery stakeholder groups will enable SIFT to achieve its objectives of reversing the decline in the Clyde fishery and bring about the restoration of an economically viable mixed fishery within the Firth of Clyde.”