Projectfish were asked to collate a range of information from the skippers/owners of vessels operating to the west of Scotland. Of particular interest to the industry at the moment are the spatial and temporal distributions of cod relative to other species. Ideally fishermen would prefer not to catch cod that they either have to discard or lease quota in order to land it.


  • Annie Hooper
  • Magnus Johnson
  • Dr John Whelan
  • Scottish White Fish Producers Association, in particular Mike Park and the White Fish and Shelf Edge Committee
  • Scottish Fisherman’s Organisation, in particular the Peterhead office, Frank Stride and Jane Sandell
  • Orkney Fish Producers Organisation, with special thanks to Alan Coghill.
  • Marine Scotland and 15 skippers that gave their time and information in such good spirit.


Our approach, as always, was to infiltrate the (west of Scotland) fisheries not limiting ourselves to formal consultation techniques. Extractive approaches may engage large numbers of fishers, but are less reliable and fail to improve governance; neither would they extract the depth of information needed or identify the subtle nuances of the situation. Participatory approaches, including collaborative research have greater promise for improving fisheries science and management. This, we believed was essential to fully understanding the scope, reporting on the spatial and temporal distributions and gaining insight into the economic and social drivers behind fishers decision making processes. Our unique approach to relationship building means we were able to conduct a robust consultation and create shared ownership of the report and its findings.



The Atlas is a set of seasonal images using the VMS (vessel monitoring system) and landings data – overlaid with the anecdotal information from the skipper interviews. The Atlas aims to:

Qualitatively assess by interview which areas off the West Coast (VIa) skippers consider to be those in which significant quantities of cod are likely to be taken in demersal trawls

The grounds cannot be considered in isolation from other functional units as the Nephrops fleet has pack-like behaviour and moves from ground to ground as the fishery comes on.

Quantify the catches taken by the same skippers by ICES rectangle using data from Marine Scotland

The Atlas has used data from a range of sources to provide a qualitative picture of the discarding pattern.

We do not think the fleet should move to 3-4 rig trawls. This would increase the efficiency of larger boats and reduce the effective natural protection that the grounds already have.