West of Scotland Herring Hunt (WOSHH)

  West of Scotland Herring Hunt (WOSHH)

Scotland’s herring fishery was once the largest commercial fishery globally, generating income, identity, and societal change for rural communities. Following stock collapse in the 1970s, shoals of inshore-spawning herring were spotted again on the Scottish west coast between 2018 and 2021, sparking hopes for growing herring populations. Reproducing Atlantic herring relies on specific benthic spawning grounds; however, knowledge of location and status of such essential habitat is scarce on the west coast of Scotland.

The three-year West of Scotland Herring Hunt (WOSHH) project (11/21- 10/24) seeks to bridge newly generated scientific information with local ecological knowledge (including historical) to identify and produce evidence for the conservation and restoration of herring spawning habitat on the west coast of Scotland. WOSHH aims to achieve this by
• collecting habitat information working with Scottish west coast communities, organizations, industry, and individuals, from the Clyde to Cape Wrath and the Hebrides
• inviting citizen scientists to participate in ‘herring hunts’ for spotting spawning shoals, eggs and juveniles using the new “Herring Hunt” web app
• tapping into historical local ecological knowledge (e.g., from the last “herring boom” days) across the whole of the Scottish west coast
• studying the role of complex seabed substrate (e.g., maerl) for reproductive success
• investigating historical herring catches, temperature and climatic anomalies to learn from the past and help predict future trends
• promoting co-management and dialogue between marine stakeholders within inshore waters where space is limited
• and championing the integration of essential spawning habitat into management measures

Healthy spawning habitat could help rebuild inshore herring populations, with potentially positive social and economic impacts, as well as improving biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

WOSHH, led by Edinburgh Napier University and funded by the William Grant Foundation, collaborates with a wide range of partners to achieve the project’s goals.

Read more on WOSHH on the new scottishherring.org webpage.

  • Start Date:

    1 November 2021

  • End Date:

    31 October 2024

  • Activity Type:

    Externally Funded Research

  • Funder:

    William Grant Foundation

  • Value:

    £154550

Project Team