THE closure of the Clyde fisheries “cod box” and subsequent alterations to the original scope of the plan have angered many in Scotland’s fishing community and could see more of them fund their own research into stock levels.

Just a few weeks after the ­original closure announcement, Mairi Gougeon, the Rural Affairs ­Secretary, revealed at the ­beginning of this month a revised plans based on ­“scientific evidence” for “more ­focused and ­targeted” closures, which would see that part of the Clyde closed to all fishing for 11 weeks this year and next.

She said then: “The revised closure areas are a pragmatic and evidence-based solution to ensure that primarily, we are still seeking to protect the spawning cod whilst also mitigating potential socio-economic impacts on our vulnerable coastal communities.”

However, the Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) and the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA), following a meeting in ­Aberdeen, said they would organise “rigorous, transparent” studies of species stocks that were “fit for purpose”.

READ MORE: Anger as Clyde fishing ground closure is announced with no communication

Between them members of the two bodies account for more than 80% of the UK’s whitefish catches, and James Anderson, the SFA chairman, said they were “at the end of their tether”.

He told The Shetland Times: “We have lost all faith in fisheries management but can’t afford to wait so we are going to act with others to help fix it. Poor science really matters because it leads to quota recommendations that bear no resemblance to the volume of fish on the ground.”

This is not the first time the ­fishing community has mounted its own research initiatives. ­Scottish ­Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) ­Services has run the Independent ­On-board Observer Scheme (IOOS) since 2008 and Orkney ­Sustainable Fisheries been tagging brown crab since 2010 to gain clarity in their movement around the Scottish ­coastline.

Hannah Fennell, who heads the Orkney Fisheries Association (OFA) said they had always advocated for industry-led data collection.

She told The Sunday National: “The knowledge of fishermen has begun to be recognised for what it is – an ­incredibly valuable ­resource for ­understanding the marine ­environment and species within it.

“Working with fishers gives scientists a fantastic opportunity to generate detailed, long term datasets which can give valuable insight into current and future trends.”

Fennell said the IOOS initiative was the “cornerstone” for stock ­assessments and had contributed to the understanding of anglerfish ­species and herring stocks, but there was no dedicated industry-science scheme for inshore fisheries, the ­biggest barrier to which was the lack of long-term funding.

Previous projects by the OFA and the Orkney Regional Inshore Fisheries Group relied on funding from the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which allowed the OFA to carry out limited projects.

Fennell said: “While this allowed us to do some fantastic work on brown crab and scallops, it made ­securing the future of long term ­projects ­difficult.

“For data to be used in fisheries management, they need to be detailed and extensive – the longer the time period the data cover, the better.

“New funding schemes that replace the EMFF, such as the Fisheries-Industry Science Partnerships (FISPs), are difficult for inshore fisheries – which are small-scale and relatively poorly-resourced – to access due to the complicated and burdensome tendering process.

READ MORE: ‘Paltry’ schemes compensating Brexit losses throwing UK fishing on the ‘scrapheap’

“These schemes are also short-term, and while they are excellent for some projects, they do not solve the issue of how to generate the long-term datasets needed for management.”

Fennell said OSF and the local ­Regional Inshore Fisheries Group still carried out some research, but again funding was difficult: “To the best of my knowledge they are not given a research budget – unlike their English counterparts, which are able to employ scientists and carry out their own research projects using their budgets. This undermines the ability of Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups to carry out their jobs effectively.

“Data collection and analysis would allow them to understand the areas they manage, the species within them, and to help support a sustainable and resilient fishing industry.

“Already we are seeing the distribution of species shifting, and these changes have not yet been incorporated into fisheries management plans. Understanding these changes and how they will impact ecosystems and those who rely on them is vital to secure the resilience of coastal communities and mitigate against the worst impacts of climate change.”