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
ISBN:
9781784128913

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

Contents
2014 Consultation on the Management of Inshore Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Protected Areas Approaches.
Protected Area L - South Arran MPA

77 page PDF

570.7 kB

Protected Area L - South Arran MPA

This section sets out 3 possible management approaches for this protected area. Under the 1 st approach further measures will be required for burrowed mud. Approaches 2 and 3 will deliver sufficient protection for all the protected habitats and species.

Approach 3 is preferred because it would deliver all the measures necessary. It would further the conservation objectives of the maerl beds by removing the risk of physical disturbance. It would also reduce the risk of any sedimentation effect. Although the scallop fishery would be more spatially constrained there would be no seasonality or effort restriction.

A description of this protected area can be found in the main consultation document is Annex A, Protected Area L.

Maps to support understanding of the approaches can be found under Protected Area L in the technical maps document. Figure L1 shows South Arran in context with other protected areas.

Measures for South Arran would be delivered by Statutory Instrument using powers under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

Questions 28 - 32 refer to South Arran.

The site features and conservation objectives

Protected Feature

Conservation objective

Maerl beds

Recover

Kelp and seaweed communities on sublittoral sediments

Conserve

Burrowed mud

Conserve

Maerl or coarse shell gravel with burrowing sea cucumbers

Conserve

Seagrass beds

Conserve

Ocean quahog aggregations

Conserve

Shallow tide-swept coarse sands with burrowing bivalves

Conserve

Summary of the management advice

Feature

Mobile gear

Static gear

Other gear

Maerl 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 demersal trawl, mechanical dredges, or suction dredges.

Consider reduce / limit pressure

Kelp and seaweed communities on sublittoral sediments

Given the existing management in Lamlash Bay and should measures be put in place for the other features (particularly maerl beds and seagrass beds), there would be no need for additional management of this feature.

Shallow tide-swept coarse sands with burrowing bivalves

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

Consider reduce / limit pressure from diver operated suction dredging and hand gathering

Maerl or coarse shell gravel with burrowing sea cucumbers

Remove / avoid pressure from demersal trawl, mechanical dredges, or suction dredges. (Reduce / Limit pressure in winter)

Consider reduce / limit pressure

Remove / avoid pressure from diver operated suction dredging

Seagrass beds

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

Consider reduce / limit pressure

Remove / avoid pressure from diver operated suction dredging

Ocean quahog aggregations

Remove targeted fishing for ocean quahog

Burrowed mud has medium sensitivity to physical pressures associated with mobile demersal fishing gear e.g. surface and sub-surface abrasion. Physical disturbance of surface of seabed is likely to affect mobile and sessile epifauna 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 impact on the habitat is 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.

Kelp and seaweed communities on sublittoral sediment have low to medium sensitivity to pressures associated with demersal mobile gear. Species of kelp and seaweed can be removed by passing trawls and dredges, with low energy sites supporting dense kelp and seaweed coverage being the most sensitive. However, many animal species associated with the habitat are mobile or infaunal and so are likely to avoid most effects of surface disturbance.

Maerl beds are highly sensitive to physical disturbance caused by mobile gears and have a low rate of recovery due to their very slow growth rate. The three-dimensional structure, quality and associated communities of maerl beds can be substantially affected by mobile gear fishing from crushing, burial of live maerl and disruption of the surface and underlying sediment. In addition to direct impacts, maerl beds are sensitive to increased levels of sedimentation which can be caused by passing mobile/active fishing gear. This causes smothering of the maerl and associated fauna and flora. The deployment and retrieval of static gear over maerl beds has the potential to cause sufficient surface abrasion to result in a detrimental effect. However, the extent of these impacts on maerl beds would be dependent on the intensity of fishing.

Ocean quahogs are highly sensitive to sub-surface abrasion caused by mobile demersal fishing gear. They are caught and can be damaged by beam trawls and there is some evidence that otter trawl doors may also impact ocean quahogs by bringing them to the surface. The physical impacts of dredging on seabed sediments are similar to those of beam trawls (penetration to depths >5 cm) and so the effects on ocean quahog are likely to be similar. Static gears do not cause the type of pressure to which this species is sensitive (sub-surface abrasion) and so they are unlikely to have any effect.

Seagrass beds are highly sensitive to activities causing physical disturbance, especially where this causes disruption of the root system (rhizomes) within the sediment. Demersal towed gear and hydraulic dredging may result in such physical disturbance. The removal of seagrass plants or the root system can lead to increased patchiness, destabilization and erosion of the seagrass bed. Increased turbidity in the water column as a result of dredging can be a further factor degrading the health of the habitat by limiting the amount of light reaching the seagrass. The potential for disturbance to seagrass arising from demersal static fishing gears is likely to be less than that caused by towed or hydraulic fishing. Some disturbance may arise from deployment and recovery of gear, especially if anchors are used.

There is evidence that communities on or in mobile and coarse sands (shallow tide-swept coarse sands with burrowing bivalves) are expected to have higher resilience and recovery to high frequency disturbance. However, intensive fishing activities such as scallop dredging and hydraulic dredging can modify habitats, slowing down recovery of associated fauna beyond natural capacity. Scallop dredging in sandy habitats has been shown to cause modification of bottom deposits and mortality of fauna. Sessile long-lived bivalves are among the most severally affected bivalve fauna. Even where bivalves remain relatively intact following disturbance by fishing, certain species cannot retract their siphons within the shell. Loss of the siphons is likely to lead to their death.

The net result of ongoing fishing is the habitat may be maintained in a modified condition with reduced abundance (or possibly loss) of sensitive bivalve and epibenthic species. The degree of modification is likely to be dependent on the intensity of fishing, with the size and weight of gear and the depth of penetration into the sediment being factors. Due to the nature of sandy habitats, demersal static gear is considered to have a minimal effect on epifauna.

The approaches to management

Static gear assessment

It is proposed that no static gear be used in the areas essential to the recovery of maerl beds. However given the long-term recovery period for this habitat is may be possible for there to be a limited creel fishery by permit within these recovery areas.

Static gear activity is low according to Scotmap. The current levels are not considered to be impacting on the other habitats. Consequently no additional static gear management is proposed. However if future studies found there to be a negative effect then this would be addressed then.

Measures common to all approaches

The use of suction dredges (boat or diver operated) would be prohibited throughout the MPA. The deployment of any bottom contacting fishing gear within the maerl recovery areas would be prohibited (see figure L2). The deployment of anchors on the seagrass beds of whiting bay would be prohibited (see figure L3). There is potential for a limited creel fishery in the maerl recovery areas, and moorings could be laid in Whiting Bay, under a permit scheme to ensure that they are a certain type and positioned appropriately.

Question 28 asks if there should be a high level of protection to further the recovery of the maerl beds and conservation of the seagrass beds at Whiting Bay. Question 29 asks if there should be a permit scheme to enable a limited creel fishery in those recovery areas, and for moorings adjacent to seagrass beds.

Measures common to approaches 2 and 3

The capacity of trawlers operating (subject to the spatial measures) would be restricted to vessels under 100 Gross Registered Tonnage ( GRT).

Approach 1

This approach would apply management across the entire MPA using a mix of general and specific zonal measures. This approach would not deliver all the management requirements. Further consideration of burrowed mud would be required in the 2 nd batch of measures.

The proposed measures

No demersal trawling or mechanical dredging within the ½ NM area (shown in purple in figure L4). Mechanical dredging would only be permitted west of Bennan Head during January, February, November and December each year. This line is shown in green in figure L4.

The benefit

All of the most sensitive habitats would be covered by these measures and therefore the conservation objectives would be furthered.

The costs

The trawl data will be an overestimate caused by vessels anchoring overnight in the zone.

Method

Average annual MPA value

Average annual value affected

% of value affected

Average annual effort hours in MPA

Average annual effort hours affected

% of effort affected

Trawl

£438

£22

5%

5459

184

3%

Dredge

£75

£33

44%

906

330

36%

Table L1: Average annual impact of approach 1 based on 2007 to 2013 data for over 15 metre vessels (rounded to nearest £000s)

South Arran covers part of ICES rectangles 39E4, 39E5, 40E4 and 40E5. According to the analysis of Scotmap data for trawl and dredge fisheries approximately 8% of the total value of those ICES Rectangles is taken from the MPA. Amount affected is based upon the effort proportion affected for over 15 metre vessels.

Method

Total effort days

Effort days affected

Total value

Value effected

Trawl

543

16

£464

£27

Dredge

35

13

£47

£17

Table L2: Average annual impact of approach 1 based on 2013 data for under 15 metre vessels (rounded to nearest £000s)

The displacement effects

Virtually no trawling would be displaced by these measures although further consideration of burrowed mud in the 2 nd batch would most likely have an effect. During the displacement study it was understood that any trawl VMS data close to the south of Arran (such as Whiting Bay) would be trawlers at anchor overnight or lying broadside.

Most of the scallop grounds around the south end of Arran ( e.g. around Pladda) would remain available, as can be seen in figures L8 and L10. Therefore the low amount of fishing ground lost around here could be absorbed within the MPA without a significant impact. A greater amount of displacement would occur from Lamlash Bay and around the Holy Island. This would either move within the MPA to grounds further south or elsewhere within the Firth of Clyde most likely around Arran or the Kintyre side of the Kilbrannan Sound.

Approach 2

This approach would apply management across the entire MPA using a mix of general and specific zonal measures. This approach would deliver all the management requirements.

The proposed measures

Demersal trawling would be prohibited throughout the MPA. By way of derogation vessels of less than 100 GRT (gross registered tonnes) would be able to fish in the 3 defined trawl areas. (See figure L5)

Mechanical dredging would be prohibited throughout the MPA. By way of derogation vessels operating under a restricted permit scheme would be able to fish in the 3 defined dredge areas (see figure L6)

Terms of the proposed scallop permit scheme (Permits would not be transferable or tradable);

Permits would be valid until end of 2018 (ties with network review)
Only vessels with track record in each of the last 5 years would be eligible.

A maximum total of 60 days fishing in a calendar year would be authorised (and split between successful applicants). This would consist of;

In permit area 1 (around Holy Island) a maximum of 10 days fishing in total permitted in January - March & October - December each year.
In permit area 2 (around Pladda) a maximum of 30 days fishing in total permitted in January - March & October - December each year.
In permit area 3 (Drumnadoon to Bennan) a maximum of 20 days fishing in total permitted in January, February, November, and December each year.

Conditions of a permit;

Vessels would only be permitted to fish between 0700 - 2100 Monday to Friday.
Vessel would only be allowed to be active in one permit area per day.
A day would count as a day irrespective of the number of hours fished.
Maximum bar length would be set to limit gear to 6-a-side.
Vessel must have fully operational Satellite Tracking Device
Vessel must have fully operational data logger recording position every minute.

The benefit

This would further the conservation objectives of all the protected features. Spatially restricting the footprint of demersal trawling and mechanical dredging to provides a good balance between the ecological objectives of the MPA and the economic needs of those who fish there. By limiting the level of effort in the scallop fishery it means that Olympic style fisheries cannot occur.

The costs

The value of fisheries affected is derived by subtracting the value of the fisheries in the Scallop Permit Areas and the Designated Trawl Areas from the total value of the MPA.

Method

Average annual MPA value

Average annual value affected

% of value affected

Average annual effort hours in MPA

Average annual effort hours affected

% of effort affected

Trawl

£438

£154

35%

5459

1447

26.5%

Dredge

£75

£21

28%

906

225

25%

Table L3: Average annual impact of approach 2 based on 2007 to 2013 data for over 15m vessels (rounded to nearest £000s)

South Arran covers part of ICES rectangles 39E4, 39E5, 40E4 and 40E5. According to the analysis of Scotmap data for trawl and dredge fisheries approximately 8% of the total value of those ICES Rectangles is taken from the MPA. Amount affected is based upon the effort proportion affected for over 15 metre vessels.

Method

Total effort days

Effort days affected

Total value

Value effected

Trawl

543

144

£464

£123

Dredge

35

9

£47

£12

Table L4: Average annual impact of approach 2 based on 2013 data for under 15 metre vessels (rounded to nearest £000s)

The displacement effects

Some trawling would be displaced by these measures. However this has been minimised by ensuring that the most fished grounds remain available (see figures L9 and L11). Given the significant burrowed mud resource in the Firth of Clyde any displacement is likely to be widely dispersed across the nephrops grounds.

Under this approach there will also be a displacement of mechanical dredge activity. Those who most depend upon this area would qualify for a permit and therefore be able to continue fishing there under strict spatial and effort conditions. Any activity displaced would be expected to move elsewhere within the Firth of Clyde most likely around Arran or the Kintyre side of the Kilbrannan Sound.

Approach 3 (preferred approach)

This approach would apply management across the entire MPA using a mix of general and specific zonal measures. This approach would deliver all the management requirements.

The proposed measures

Demersal trawling would be prohibited throughout the MPA. By way of derogation vessels of less than 100 GRT (gross registered tonnes) would be able to fish in the 3 defined trawl areas. (see figure L5)

Mechanical dredging would be prohibited throughout the MPA. By way of derogation vessels operating under a permit scheme would be able to fish in the defined dredge area (see figure L7). Vessels being granted a permit must have fully operational Satellite Tracking Device and a fully operational data logger recording position every 5 minutes.

The benefit

This would further the conservation objectives of all the protected features, and reduce any risks of a negative effect the lowest levels. Spatially restricting the footprint of demersal trawling and mechanical dredging to provides a good balance between the ecological objectives of the MPA and the economic needs of those who fish there.

The costs

The value of fisheries affected is derived by subtracting the value of the fisheries in the Scallop Permit Areas and the Designated Trawl Areas from the total value of the MPA.

Method

Average annual MPA value

Average annual value affected

% of value affected

Average annual effort hours in MPA

Average annual effort hours affected

% of effort affected

Trawl

£438

£154

35%

5459

1447

26.5%

Dredge

£75

£41

54%

906

441

49%

Table L5: Average annual impact of approach 3 based on 2007 to 2013 data for over 15m vessels (rounded to nearest £000s)

South Arran covers part of ICES rectangles 39E4, 39E5, 40E4 and 40E5. According to the analysis of Scotmap data for trawl and dredge fisheries approximately 8% of the total value of those ICES Rectangles is taken from the MPA. Amount affected is based upon the effort proportion affected for over 15 metre vessels.

Method

Total effort days

Effort days affected

Total value

Value effected

Trawl

543

144

£464

£123

Dredge

35

17

£47

£23

Table L6: Average annual impact of approach 3 based on 2013 data for under 15 metre vessels (rounded to nearest £000s)

The displacement effects

Some trawling would be displaced by these measures. However this has been minimised by ensuring that the most fished grounds remain available (see figures L9 and L11). Given the significant burrowed mud resource in the Firth of Clyde any displacement is likely to be widely dispersed across the nephrops grounds.

Under this approach there will also be a displacement of mechanical dredge activity. However a significant proportion of the fishing grounds would remain available, as can be seen in figures L8 and L10. Any activity displaced would be expected to move elsewhere within the Firth of Clyde most likely around Arran or the Kintyre side of the Kilbrannan Sound.


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