View Full Version : New conservation proposals to safeguard Manx fisheries

Davie Tait
1st April 2010, 20:36

Thursday, 01 April 2010 09:21

ISLE of Man Fisheries Minister, Phil Gawne, has confirmed proposed amendments to bye-laws regulating the scallop and queenie fishery, to provide greater protection for Manx Scallop and Queenie stocks, and the jobs that they support.

Announcing his proposals, the Minister explained: “The Isle of Man already leads the way within the British Isles on scallop conservation, with a range of innovative measures including gear restrictions, curfews and a network of closed areas designed to enhance and safeguard the scallop fishery. These new proposals build on previous measures, and extend this innovation to the queenie fishery, which is currently largely unregulated.”

“The events of 2009, when my attempts to introduce emergency conservation measures were vetoed by the Scottish Fisheries Minister, cannot be allowed to repeat themselves. The huge influx of nomadic effort last November resulted in huge damage to the scallop beds, and a glut of scallops on the market that benefited no-one. It was a text book example of how not to manage a fishery, and I am determined that 2009 will go down in history as the last year such mismanagement was allowed to take place in Manx waters.”

He continued: “In addition to this, I am hopeful that the measures intended to secure the future of the Isle of Man queenie fishery will be of great benefit to the Manx and Scottish fishermen and processors that have jointly assisted with their development. I believe that these measures will provide permanent and positive benefits to fishermen, processors and the marine environment. I am particularly pleased to be able to create the Queenie Management Board, which will formally involve fishermen and processors in future sustainable management of this stock, which has great potential in new and developing markets.”

Davie Tait
2nd November 2010, 17:44

Tuesday, 02 November 2010 16:35

FOLLOWING an “unnecessary” bye-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 Scottish Government said tonight. And later,a fishermen's spokesman said they had lacked support over the crucial issue.

The action by the Isle of Man Government means 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.

Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“The Scottish Government believes that the Isle of Man bye-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.

Mr Lochhead added:

“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 measures are said to be to reduce scallop fishing, however the Scottish Government say 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.

The Scottish scallop industry has lost “at a stroke” the greater part of its access to an economically essential and traditional fishing ground, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said later.

The federation and their constituent member the Scallop Association say that it is blatant that the science associated with the Manx decision only looked at the effect of already decided exclusion measures and did not explore the issue of continued sustainability.

And they claimed the new law actually fixes only the economic sustainability of the Manx industry by excluding the majority of the Scottish fleet, which for decades has been part of the fishing activity.

In sharp contrast, during the Manx scallop fishery closed season observed by all participants each summer, Isle of Man boats are currently welcomed into the Scottish fishery.

John Hermse, secretary of the Scallop Association, said: ”Fishermen do not make rules or the law. We will provide data and discuss compromise, but responsibility for our defence lies with the fisheries administrations.

“We had made it crystal clear to the Scottish Government right from the beginning in April that this regulation was all about walling out the Scottish fleet and not about stock sustainability.

“Despite offers on sustainability measures, nothing has changed and we are now cornered. There is no way to describe our current situation other than as a failure of support. There is little to gain from accusations of blame between the Scottish Government and DEFRA, the fact is we are now compromised.

“Political action is now required at the highest level to restore access to those vessels with traditional rights. Even at this eleventh hour we reiterate our willingness to talk.”