Leading Clyde fishery expert joins the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust

A leading figure in the management of the Firth of Clyde fishery has joined the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust as a Trustee.

The Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT), a charity set up to promote an economically and environmentally sustainable fishing industry, has recruited Dr. Billy Sinclair as a Trustee and Director.

Dr. Sinclair was previously the Chairman of the Clyde Inshore Fisheries Group – the body formed by the Scottish Government to promote an innovative, partnership-led and locally specific approach to fisheries management in the Firth of Clyde.

He says: ‘SIFT’s aim of recreating a balanced fishery in the Firth of Clyde, through the establishment of a programme of spatial segregation of fishing effort is something I am wholly supportive of.

‘I worked towards achieving a balanced fishery whilst at the Clyde IFG and now hope to continue towards that goal with SIFT, to bring tangible benefits to all sectors of the coastal communities around the Clyde.

‘SIFT’s project represents a progressive model for a locally-managed sustainable fishery, something which will give ownership back to the relevant stakeholders.

‘Part of the challenge is to restore the Clyde’s white fish populations so that the fishing industry can once again sustainably catch fin-fish like cod, haddock and herring.

‘In recent years the majority of Clyde commercial fishing landings have been shell-fish. This dependence on shell-fish is a social, economic and environmental tragedy in what was once a world renowned fin-fishery.’

The Firth of Clyde is the country’s largest inland sea, stretching from the Mull of Kintyre in Argyll to Corsewell Point in Dumfries and Galloway and covering an area of over 3700 square kilometres that includes the Kyles of Bute and Lochs Fyne, Striven and Long – all in Argyll.

Historically, the Clyde supported a healthy mix of shell-fish and fin-fish fisheries that in turn supported many of its coastal communities.

However, since trawls and dredges that scour the sea bed were permitted in the early 1980s to be used within 3 miles of the coast, there has been an almost total collapse of the fin fish population.

Some 72% of the remaining Clyde fin fish stock is made up of whiting,of which around 85% are less than the legal minimum landing size.

Billy Sinclair, who grew up in Glasgow and obtained his BSc in Biological Science from Paisley College of Technology and his PhD from the Open University, says: ‘Commercial fishing and recreational angling were vital to many Clydeside communities.

‘For economic, social and ecological reasons we must restore the Clyde, so that these marine industries can revive and other new ones can develop.’

SIFT Chair, Robert Younger, says: ‘We are delighted that Billy has joined SIFT as he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience about the Clyde fishery.

‘We believe that Billy’s expertise and the high regard in which he is held, will help SIFT to achieve its objectives of reversing the decline in the Clyde fishery and bring about the restoration of an economically vibrant coastal economy based upon a healthier marine environment.’

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