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 H - Noss Head MPA

77 page PDF

570.7 kB

Protected Area H - Noss Head 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 H. Maps to support understanding of the approaches can be found under Protected Area H in the technical maps document. Figure H1 shows Noss Head in context with other protected areas.

Measures for Noss Head would be delivered by Statutory Instrument using powers under the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984.

Questions 21 and 22 refer to Noss Head.

The site features and conservation objectives

Protected Feature

Conservation objective

Horse mussel beds


Summary of the management advice


Mobile gear

Static gear

Other gear

Horse mussel beds

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

Consider reduce / limit pressure

Horse mussel beds are highly sensitive to mobile demersal gear activities that cause pressures including surface and subsurface disturbance and abrasion. The physical impacts from mobile gear can affect horse mussel beds through direct mortality from shell damage, by breaking up the bed and by affecting or removing associated fauna attached to the bed.

Horse mussel 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. Horse mussel beds are less sensitive to static gears compared to mobile gear, but depending on the type of epifauna present this may increase if sustaining high fishing intensity.

The approach to management

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.

The proposed measures

Demersal trawl, mechanical dredging and suction dredging (boat and diver operated) would be prohibited all year round as shown in figure H2.

The benefit

The new measures would remove / avoid pressure from fishing methods that could have an impact on the Horse Mussel bed. This would ensure that from a fisheries perspective the conservation objective would be furthered and the largest known example of a horse mussel bed conserved.

The costs


Effort (Hours)

Value (£s)

Demersal trawl /




Table H1: Average fishing effort by over 15m vessels in MPA (2007-2013)

Noss Head covers part of ICES rectangle 45E6. According to the analysis of Scotmap data of trawl and dredge fisheries approximately 0.3% of the total value of that ICES Rectangle is taken from the MPA. For 2013 this equates to approximately 0.5 effort days and £550.

The displacement effects

VMS data shows that there is a scallop dredge fishery just to the east of the MPA (see figures H3 and H6). Over the 7 years of data there are relatively few "pings" within the MPA. There is a low value overlap from SCOTMAP scallop dredge data (see figure H4) and no value from nephrops trawl (see figure H5). It's reasonable to assume that any vessel below VMS size are likely to be working on the same grounds as the larger vessels. With fishing grounds close to the MPA any displacement would most likely be absorbed by these areas.