Publication - Consultation responses

2014 Consultation on the management of inshore Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Protected Areas - Consultation analysis report

Published: 10 Jul 2015
Part of:
Marine and fisheries
ISBN:
9781785444890

2014 Consultation on the management of inshore Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Protected Areas - Consultation analysis report. Summary of the responses received relating to each site.

236 page PDF

11.9 MB

236 page PDF

11.9 MB

Contents
2014 Consultation on the management of inshore Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Protected Areas - Consultation analysis report
10. Loch Sunart to Sound Of Jura MPA

236 page PDF

11.9 MB

10. Loch Sunart to Sound Of Jura MPA

10.1. Introduction

10.1.1. The Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura MPA was designated to protect a resident population of common skate. The Loch Sunart MPA was designated to protect small clusters of serpulid and extensive flame shell beds and northern feather star aggregations. The area was designated as a SAC for its reefs and otters. The SAC includes both Loch Sunart and Loch Teacuis.

10.1.2. The consultation presented two possible management approaches for this area. In both approaches the use of suction dredges (boat or diver operated), long lines, bottom set nets and trawl tickler chains would be prohibited and demersal trawling and mechanical dredging would be prohibited in part of the area. In addition, the deployment of creels along with anchoring would be prohibited in Loch Teacuis.

  • Approach 1 also provides spatial protection for the various habitats and the deep areas where mature common skate tend to reside.
  • Approach 2 builds on the first by adjoining three of the deep areas to include shallower waters and provide connective protection for transient common skate. This is, at present, the Scottish Government's preferred approach because it would protect the common skate whilst in the deep areas that they are known to inhabit. It also gives protection to the shallower waters that connect the three areas together which should help protect transients.

10.2. We Asked

10.2.1. The consultation asked: 'Do you support the preferred approach (number 2) for managing this protected area?' A follow up question asking about support for the alternate approach was also asked.

10.2.2. The consultation also asked 'Do you agree with the economic, social, and environmental assessments of the impact of the management approaches?'

10.3. You Said

10.3.1. Ten respondents answered 'yes' whilst 31 respondent answered 'no' in response to whether they support the preferred management approach. Table 10.1 summarises the responses received.

10.3.2. There was no respondent grouping where a majority of those answering supported Approach 2. Opposition was particularly evident from environment /conservation and recreation /tourism respondents.

10.3.3. Mobile fishing and static fishing respondents were divided in their views, as were individual respondents.

10.3.4. Neither of the local authorities that answered the question supported the preferred approach.

Table 10 . 1: Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura MPA - Support for preferred management approach

Yes

No

Other comments

No reply

Individuals (133)

5

6

-

122

Environment / Conservation (17)

1

11

-

5

Inshore Fisheries Group ( IFG) (3)

-

-

-

3

Industry / Transport (6)

-

-

1

5

Mobile fishing (8)

2

2

-

4

Local authority (3)

-

2

-

1

Local group (7)

1

2

-

4

Recreation / Tourism (13)

-

6

-

7

Static fishing (4)

1

2

1

-

Other (2)

-

-

-

2

Total (196)

10

31

2

153

10.3.5. One static fishing respondent and one industry /transport organisation commented without giving an indication of support or otherwise and these are counted in the 'other comments' column in the table above. The static fishing respondent commented here, as in other areas, that they "support proportionate conservation measures with minimum impact on commercial fisheries".

10.3.6. The industry /transport respondent expressed the view that an anchoring ban in 'inner' Loch Teacuis is not justified based on available information, although the respondent expressed a willingness to reconsider should a diver survey reveal the presence of protected species in the area. A similar view was put forward by a recreation /tourism organisation that did not support the proposed approach.

10.3.7. In total, 23 respondents that answered 'no' made further comments and the key themes emerging from the comments of those opposed to the proposed approach were that dredging and trawling should be prohibited throughout the whole of the MPA and that the proposals provide inadequate protection, particularly with regard to skate. Four environment /conservation respondents also added a suggestion that trawling, in addition to dredging, should be excluded within the Firth of Lorn SAC., one said: "Any attempt to open the Firth of Lorn SAC will be subject to Hebridean Partnership advising the EC".

10.3.8. Other comments from respondents that answered 'no' included:

  • That policing of the area by the public will be difficult if the ban on demersal fishing is only in certain selected spots (individual); a recreation /tourism organisation also felt that not enough consideration has been given to vessel policing measures.
  • That there is a perceived bias in favour of the commercial fishing sectors (environment /conservation); a recreation /tourism organisation also commented that undue attention is placed on the interests of the mobile fishing fleet.
  • That the preferred approach undermines the scientific approach at the heart of the wider process (environment /conservation).
  • That monitoring of protected areas before and after management approaches are implemented is essential (environment /conservation).
  • That the area closed to fishing is "poorly defined" (local authority).
  • A request for clarification as to how moorings and a shellfish farm with consent in Loch Teacuis have been assessed with regards to fisheries impacts (environment /conservation).
  • That there is a lack of evidence to support closing additional areas to mobile fishing (local authority supporting the alternative approach) and that further consideration of the socio-economic impacts is needed (two mobile fishing respondents supporting the alternative approach).

10.3.9. Eight of the ten respondents who supported the proposed approach made additional comments. The main themes emerging from their comments related to greater protection for the marine environment, particularly for skate, and that skate move between shallow and deep waters. One respondent, a mobile fishing organisation, noted the benefits to the coastal communities and the economy of keeping some areas open to trawling and fishing.

10.3.10. Those who did not support the preferred option were asked: 'Do you support the other approach?' and only three respondents, a local authority and two mobile fishing respondents as referenced above, answered 'yes'. They commented again that there was insufficient evidence to support the need for Approach 2.

10.3.11. Twenty-eight respondents answered 'no', supporting neither Approach 1 nor Approach 2.

10.3.12. Twenty-four of the respondents who answered 'no' added comments. The key themes were predominantly reiterations of concerns already expressed regarding Approach 2, particularly that there is insufficient protection for skate and that a total ban on demersal trawling and dredging is required throughout the MPA.

10.3.13. In short, many respondents that commented were of the view that if Approach 2 provided inadequate protection then Approach 1 would be worse still. As one environment /conservation respondent expressed it: "Being less ambitious than Approach 2, Approach 1 is certainly unsuitable to ensure the site achieves its conservation objectives, which themselves fall short of helping underpin the population recovery of this critically endangered species that is needed". The respondent added: "We contend that the conservation objective for common skate should be 'recover' at this site".

10.3.14. There were additional comments on the challenges in policing small areas and preventing illegal dredging, as well as some doubts expressed as to whether either approach will meet the Scottish Government's obligation to achieve 'good environmental status' by 2020.

10.3.15. One local group noted that complete prohibition of mobile demersal gear might impact on some vessels in the short term and expressed the view that it would be important that Marine Scotland supports affected fishermen during the transition.

10.3.16. One individual respondent that supported neither approach felt that commercial fishing should be allowed to continue at current levels but expressed concern that the current tagging regime may be causing some mortality amongst common skate.

10.3.17. Finally, in this section, eight respondents answered 'yes' and 20 respondents answered 'no' in response to whether they agreed with the economic, social, and environmental assessments of the impact of the management approaches.

10.3.18. Twenty-six respondents added comments, comprising five who answered neither 'yes' nor 'no', 18 that answered 'no' and three that answered 'yes'.

10.3.19. The main theme, predominantly from respondents that answered 'no', was that the potential value and benefits that might be realised from a ban on mobile fishing are underestimated.

10.3.20. Respondents from a variety of groupings commented on the potential value of the recreational sector that might be realised through prohibiting mobile fishing. A local authority, a recreation /tourism organisation, an individual and an environment /conservation respondent also cited the potential to expand scallop diving if mobile gear is prohibited.

10.3.21. Two environment /conservation respondents commented that the assessment has failed to consider other additional benefits that the proposed measures may bring such as social, health or environmental.

10.3.22. Several environment /conservation respondents also commented that more radical measures are needed to protect common skate and that any level of bycatch is concerning. One of these respondents added that it is important to clarify whether the proposals are for one or both of two variant species of the common skate, the flapper skate (Dipturus intermedia) and the blue skate (D. flossada). The respondent also commented that "the list of PMFs must also be updated to clarify any differences in conservation priorities that may apply to the two species."

10.3.23. Two mobile fishing respondents referred to a lack of time to consider the environmental report and added that they reserve judgement on the economic and social assessments due to their recall of discussions during stakeholder engagement regarding the relevance and completeness of data provided.

10.3.24. Other comments included:

  • That compliance is more of an issue than the economic impacts per se (individual respondent answering 'yes').
  • That there is a need to consider the effects of creel fishing in relation to limitations on fishing and leisure activity (mobile fishing respondent answering neither 'yes' nor 'no).
  • An observation that an electricity cable to be laid this summer crosses the area and this could be an additional consideration (mobile fishing respondent answering neither 'yes' nor 'no).
  • That "there appears to be contradictory information in the fact that the estimated costs for both approaches is given as being equal yet scallop dredge activity is estimated as being in the medium to high range" (mobile fishing respondent answering neither 'yes' nor 'no).
  • That a ban on anchoring in the Inner Basin of Loch Teacuis will adversely affect recreational sailors and that there is no evidence as to why a voluntary approach would not be viable. This respondent also commented that criteria for moorings should be established (recreation /tourism respondent answering 'no').

10.4. We Did

10.4.1. Comments relating to the environmental report and benefits have been addressed in the broad issues section

10.4.2. The Scottish Government accepts that common skate are a globally endangered species. While Scotland can't achieve global recovery alone we can make a contribution. However we remain of the view that the site level conservation objective should be "conserve".

10.4.3. The PMF list published on 24 July 2014 specifically states that common skate applies to both D. flossada, and D. intermedia. Even if it was one or the other the proposed measures would bring conservation benefit to all components of the Dipturus family. Marine Scotland does not consider there to be any difference in the conservation priority for these species for fisheries management purposes.

10.4.4. It is also accepted that management of the Firth of Lorn SAC should be normalised in line with proposed measures for other reef SACs. We also accept that we need to do more for protection of common skate, but do not think a complete prohibition of mobile gear is a proportionate response.

10.4.5. It is also accepted that control of anchoring in Loch Teacuis can be achieved without statutory measures though the management plan. Marine Scotland intends to work with the Royal Yachting Association, other stakeholders, and Scottish Natural Heritage to deliver this.

10.4.6. For Loch Sunart MPA / SAC we intend to implement the following measures by an Order under the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984;

  • To prohibit the use of the following fishing methods - suction dredge, mechanical dredge, beam trawl, demersal trawl, long lines, bottom set nets, and creel fishing - throughout the MPA / SAC.
  • By way of derogation creel fishing will be permitted everywhere except Loch Teacuis.
  • The removal of horse mussels will also be prohibited.

10.4.7. For Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura MPA (minus Loch Sunart) and the Firth of Lorn SAC we intend to implement the following measures using a Marine Conservation Order under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010;

  • To prohibit the use of the following fishing methods - suction dredge, mechanical dredge, beam trawl, demersal trawl, long lines, and bottom set nets - throughout the MPA / SAC with a small extension bridging the gap between the 2 sites that incorporates a deep water area known to be utilised by common skate.
  • By way of derogation mechanical dredge and demersal trawl (subject to a no tickler chain technical measure) will be permitted in specified areas.
  • The existing prohibition on scallop dredging - The Inshore Fishing (Prohibited Methods of Fishing) (Firth of Lorn) (No. 2) Order 2007 ( SSI 2007 / 240) - will be revoked and replaced by these measures.

10.4.8. The measures and their ecological value are shown in appendix 10.


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