Blue whiting fishery for Scots fleet progressing well

Blue whiting fishery for Scots fleet progressing well

The blue whiting fishery for the Scottish fleet is progressing well with the fish slowly making their way northwards and boats currently targeting their efforts west of Barra Head in the Outer Isles.

Around a dozen Scottish boats are working the fishery, landing their catches into a variety of ports, including Peterhead. For Scottish mackerel and herring fishermen, blue whiting forms an important annual fishery that generally starts in February, and this year is expected to conclude by the end of April.

The fishery is particularly important for supporting processing jobs by keeping onshore pelagic processing facilities busy in what would otherwise be a quiet period when there is no mackerel and herring fishing going on.

A member of the cod family, the blue whiting is a medium sized fish that is typically about 22 to 30cm in length, although they can grow larger.  They are rather unusual in that unlike their cousins the cod and haddock, which are found on the seabed, blue whiting are largely midwater swimmers and behave more like pelagic fish such as herring and mackerel. They form large shoals at depths of around 400m along the continental shelf.

Blue whiting are found off the west of Ireland in the early part of the year where they congregate to spawn before then gradually migrating northwards past Scotland and up into Faroese and Norwegian waters to spend the summer.