Publication - Consultation paper

2014 Consultation on the Management of Inshore Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Protected Areas Approaches.

Published: 11 Nov 2014
Part of:
Marine and fisheries

2014 Public Consultation on the Management of Inshore Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Protected Areas Approaches.

77 page PDF

570.7 kB

77 page PDF

570.7 kB

2014 Consultation on the Management of Inshore Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Protected Areas Approaches.
Protected Area F - Lochs Duich Long & Alsh SAC / MPA

77 page PDF

570.7 kB

Protected Area F - Lochs Duich Long & Alsh SAC / MPA

This section sets out the proposed management approach for this protected area.

A description of this protected area can be found in the main consultation document is Annex A, Protected Area F. Maps to support understanding of the approaches can be found under Protected Area F in the technical maps document. Figure F1 shows Lochs Duich Long & Alsh in context with other protected areas.

Measures for Lochs Duich Long & Alsh would be delivered by Statutory Instrument using powers under the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984. This would replace the current licence condition which took effect in April 2014. The new measures may consolidate the existing seasonal closure, or standalone beside it.

Questions 16 and 17 refer to Lochs Duich Long & Alsh

The site features and conservation objectives


Protected Feature

Conservation objective

Burrowed mud


Flame shell beds



Protected Feature

Conservation objective

Reefs (Biogenic, Bedrock, Stony)


Summary of the management advice


Mobile gear

Static gear

Other gear

Flame shell beds

Remove / avoid pressure from demersal trawl, mechanical dredges, or suction dredges.

Consider reduce / limit pressure

Remove / avoid pressure from diver operated suction dredging

Burrowed mud

Consider reduce / Limit pressure from demersal trawl, mechanical dredges, or suction dredges.

Consider reduce / limit pressure


Remove / avoid pressure from demersal trawl, mechanical dredges, or suction dredges.

Remove / avoid pressure from diver operated suction dredging

The physical impacts from mobile demersal gear can affect flame shell beds through direct mortality from damage to the shells, by breaking up the bed and by affecting or removing associated fauna attached to the bed. Flame shell beds are assessed as highly sensitive to the type of pressures caused by mobile demersal fishing gear, i.e. surface and sub-surface abrasion. Flame shell beds are also sensitive to the indirect effects of increased sedimentation, which can result in smothering and can result in the subsequent mortality of individuals.

Whilst there is no published evidence on the sensitivity of flame shell beds to static gear, given their high sensitivity to abrasion and due to the delicate nature of their shells and the nests, intense levels of fishing with heavy static gear could have damaging effects. There is also potential for nest material to be removed through the entanglement of creels with kelp that grows in association with flame shell beds.

Burrowed mud has medium sensitivity to physical pressures associated with mobile demersal fishing gear e.g. surface and sub-surface abrasion. Physical disturbance of the surface of the seabed is likely to affect mobile and sessile epifaunal and shallow burrowers, for example damage to seapen species is likely to take place as a result of greater sediment disturbance from towed demersal gear. Trawling for Nephrops can, by reducing the number and size of burrowing individuals present, also affect the habitat structure itself in terms of the number and size of burrows present.

However, the degree of impact in terms of diversity and relative abundance of species is likely to be related to the intensity of fishing activity, and there is scope for recovery. For static gear, it is likely that when fishing activity is low, direct impacts on the habitat is likely to be minimal and seabed structure is likely to be maintained in a slightly modified state. However the impacts of increasing static gear fishing intensity and the subsequent impacts on the habitat are less well understood.

The approach to management

The reefs of Lochs Duich Long & Alsh are currently protected by a licence condition which was implemented in April 2014, but will be replaced by the new measures

There is also a mobile gear seasonal closure which means that trawling and dredging may only take place between 1 st April and 30 th September each year. There is also a restriction on trawling where only vessels under 12m registered length using a single trawl can operate there. These measures would continue to be in place.

Static gear assessment

According to Scotmap there are a low number of creel vessels operating in the protected area. The measures being proposed for mobile gear are unlikely to cause any change in activity level. However if future studies found there to be a negative effect then this would be addressed then.

Approach 1

This approach would apply new management across the entire area using general measures and a specific seasonal derogation which is already in place.

The proposed measures

The following activities would be prohibited all year round throughout the area;

Demersal Trawling
Mechanical Dredging
Suction Dredging (boat and diver operated)

There would be derogation between 01 April and 30 September each year to allow demersal trawling by vessels less that 12 metres registered length using a single net or mechanical dredging. These activities would only be permitted in the existing fishing area shown in yellow in figure F2.

The benefit

The existing management does not cover hydraulic or suction dredging. Whilst they are not believed to currently take place it is considered good practice to rectify this anomaly. No mobile gear in Loch Duich will ensure that the burrowed mud habitat remains in pristine condition. Only permitting trawl and dredge activity in the defined area means that the conservation objectives of the flame shell beds, the horse mussel beds, the burrowed mud, and the rocky reef will be furthered.

The costs

For over 15m vessels which have VMS the following data can be derived using a dataset from 2007 to 2013.


Average annual value

Average annual value affected

% of value affected

Average annual effort hours

Average annual effort hours affected

% of effort affected








Table F1: Average annual impact of approach 1 based on 2007 to 2013 data for over 15 metre vessels (rounded to nearest £000s)

Lochs Duich Long & Alsh covers part of ICES rectangle 43E4. According to the analysis of Scotmap data for trawl and dredge fisheries approximately 0.4% of the total value of these ICES Rectangles is taken from the MPA / SAC. For 2013 this equates to approximately 1 effort day and £700. If the same proportion of activity (38%) was affected by the measures this would equate to 0.6 effort days and £450 for the year.

The displacement effects

SCOTMAP data shows some trawl effort in Loch Alsh which aligns roughly with the existing fishing area (see figure F6). This activity will be taking place on the burrowed mud habitat. A significant proportion of the scallop dredge grounds will still be available meaning that displacement would be minimised.

In both cases there are significant other fishing grounds within 20 nm for both types (see figures F4 and F7). This means that the low level of activity displacement would be widely dispersed and absorbed into other fishing grounds. This is unlikely to have any adverse effect on the environment elsewhere.