Interesting press release by the Scottish Government. This is no surprise considering the move by Isle of Man scallop fleet to go for MSC certification and recognise the value of conservation, including putting into place significant closed areas, as a means of securing the future of the industry. The Scottish scallop fleet has been very reluctant to engage in either the MSC program or a conservation agenda - the fleet would do better by engaging, learning and applying the lessons to its own waters rather than undermining the attempts of the Isle of Man fleet to secure its fishing future. Read on....
Scallop fishing 02/11/2010
Following a by-law by the Isle of Man excluding part of the Scottish scallop fleet from its waters, it has not been possible to reopen Luce Bay to scallop fishing this month. The action by the Isle of Man Government mean that all vessels over 300 Horsepower that have not fished at least 50 days in the area over the past 18 months are now excluded from its territorial seas.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "The Scottish Government believes that the Isle of Man by-law is unnecessary and unwarranted and I have been in contact with the Isle of Man Fisheries Minister - and UK Ministers who gave the go-ahead - to make my concerns clear. "This measure excludes many Scottish scallop vessels from Isle of Man waters that generate part of their earnings in that fishery. Although a number of Scottish vessels are still able to continue fishing in Isle of Man waters those that have been excluded are being deprived of their historic fishing rights.
"Despite vigorous objections from Scotland over many months, the UK Government chose to sanction the new bye-law in the absence of robust scientific evidence."
Luce Bay in the south west of Scotland, within close vicinity of the Isle of Man, is a designated Special Area of Conservation and under a wider Irish Sea agreement scallop dredging is banned from June to October each year. With Isle of Man territorial waters now closed to a number of vessels that would normally fish there the extension of this ban for a further four months, with industry support, has been necessary to stop Luce Bay being damaged.
"Luce Bay would normally re-open to scallop fishing at this time of year. But the actions of the Isle of Man Government have dramatically increased the risks to Luce Bay if a fishery were to be permitted.The Fisheries Agreement between the administrations that has been in place for decades has been ignored and the Scottish Government is arranging urgent meetings with DEFRA and Isle of Man to discuss the absence of the scientific case to justify this new bye-law and how we manage the scallop fishery from now on in a way that does not discriminate against Scottish vessels. The Isle of Man scallop fishery in the Irish Sea usually opens to the UK scalloping fleet at this time. Last week the Isle of Man Government enacted a bye-law that will exclude half larger vessels in the Scottish scalloping fleet from its waters. The Isle of Man measures are said to be to reduce scallop fishing, however banning larger vessels alone is without any scientific basis and excludes half of the Scottish scallop fleet."
Vessels that would normally have fished off the Isle of Man will be obliged by the bye-law to go elsewhere if they are to stay in business. The bye-law bans from Isle of Man territorial seas any fishing vessel of over 300 Horsepower, unless it fished there for more than 50 days over a period of 18 months up to May this year. In 2009, the total catch by such vessels registered in Scotland is estimated to have been worth 750,000 pounds.
Luce Bay is a designated Special Area of Conservation and is included in a wider area of the Irish Sea where scallop dredging is prohibited from 1 June to 31 October each year under the Irish Sea Order 1984. The extension of the scallop fishing closure has been necessary to stop the features of European importance for which Luce Bay has been designated being damaged by mass displacement of scallop fishing effort.
Sometimes a picture says a thousand words..from the Marine Scotland Fisheries Status Report 2010