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

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.

17. South Arran MPA

17.1. Introduction

17.1.1. South Arran MPA was designated to protect its diversity of animal and plant-life including maerl beds, kelp and seaweed communities and a large seagrass bed. The consultation presented three management approaches for this MPA, all of which would prohibit the use of suction dredges (boat or diver operated) throughout the MPA.

  • Approach 1 would prohibit the use of demersal trawls or mechanical dredges within ½ nautical miles ( NM) of land. This approach would not deliver management of burrowed mud which would require further consideration.
  • Approach 2 would create scallop permit areas with a strict management scheme for mechanical dredging. In addition designated fishing areas for trawlers under 100 Gross Registered Tonnage ( GRT) would be created. This would meet all the conservation requirements
  • Approach 3 would have the same trawl management as Approach 2. For mechanical dredging a designated fishing area would be created which would be the subject of additional controls. This would meet all the conservation requirements. 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.

17.2. We Asked

17.2.1. The consultation asked: 'Do you support the proposed high level of protection for recovery of the maerl beds, and conservation of the seagrass beds?'

17.2.2. The consultation then asked: 'Should there be a permit scheme for creel vessels to work within these recovery areas for maerl beds, and moorings adjacent to the seagrass beds?'

17.2.3. The consultation also asked: 'Do you support the preferred approach (number 3) for managing this protected area?' A follow up question asking about support for the alternate approaches was also asked.

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

17.3. You Said

17.3.1. Seventy-eight respondents, mainly individuals, commented only on the South Arran MPA, almost all of these single area responses were opposed to any dredging or trawling in the area; reasons given are outlined below alongside comments from other respondents on the proposed management approaches.

17.3.2. The consultation asked: 'Do you support the proposed high level of protection for recovery of the maerl beds, and conservation of the seagrass beds?'

17.3.3. Twenty-four of the 34 respondents, across respondent groups, who answered this question said that they do support the proposed high level of protection. Seven, mainly individuals and environment /conservation respondents said they did not. Three others, from the static and mobile fishing and environment /conservation groups made other comments.

17.3.4. Nineteen respondents commented further on this question. The main points made by those who answered 'yes' included:

  • The sensitive nature of maerl and seagrass beds.
  • The importance of these habitats, particularly as nursery habitats.
  • That the habitats are listed Priority Marine Features.
  • That the areas proposed for closure area similar to the areas agreed for voluntary closure.

17.3.5. Three respondents who said they did not support the proposed high level of protection commented:

  • That the options are too limited; an environment /conservation respondent felt that the proposal does not allow for "proper spatial planning" and therefore a 'no take' zone should operate across the area. An individual wanted to see a ban on scallop dredging and bottom-trawling across the area.
  • Another individual felt the proposals discriminate against small local fisherman and hobby fisherman and wanted to see more restrictions on commercial mobile fishing vessels.

17.3.6. Other comments included one environment /conservation respondents who did not support "the proposed creation of 'islands' of opportunity for the mobile commercial sector - such a proposal would be unworkable and can only be recognised as an attempt to maintain the status quo".

17.3.7. A mobile fishing respondent put forward alternative proposals "to help support environmental concerns and also balance with the needs of social and economic needs of the area in relation to fishing".

17.3.8. A static fishing respondent again said they support "proportionate conservation measures with minimum impact on commercial fisheries".

17.3.9. The consultation then asked: 'Should there be a permit scheme for creel vessels to work within these recovery areas for maerl beds, and moorings adjacent to the seagrass beds?'

17.3.10. Fifteen, from various respondent groups, said 'yes'; 13 (predominantly environment /conservation respondents) said no; five individuals made other comments; mainly that creeling, hand-diving and angling should be permitted.

17.3.11. Nine of those who said 'yes' commented further. The main points made were: general reiteration of support; comments that dredging must be excluded; and comments on the need for protection as creel vessels may damage maerl beds. More specific comments included:

  • The need for strict criteria and monitoring for permits.
  • That permits should be restricted to commercial vessels and should be affordable.
  • The need for some fixed moorings in order to encourage tourism.
  • The need to assess any applications for new moorings on a case by case basis; however these should not be allowed within the seagrass beds.
  • That creel fishing should not be allowed within maerl beds or seagrass beds but "provision could be made for low intensity creel activity elsewhere within the recovery areas." This local authority also commented on moorings: "Rather than a permit scheme for moorings adjacent to seagrass beds, this habitat could be adequately protected through appropriate diver survey when applying for a moorings licence from Marine Scotland, as implemented in Loch Creran SAC."

17.3.12. Ten of those who said there should not be a permit scheme for creel vessels also commented. Environment /conservation respondents said they did not support the use of static fishing gear within maerl recovery areas nor moorings near seagrass beds.

17.3.13. Reasons included the slow growth and recovery of maerl the need to remove any pressure from the maerl beds to allow full recovery. One pointed out that the Approaches consultation document states '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 (sic) may be possible for there to be a limited creel fishery by permit within these recovery areas'. They said that "This is counterintuitive and ignores scientific advice about how best to recover this feature".

17.3.14. One of the environment /conservation respondent supported a 'no take' zone throughout the area.

17.3.15. Comments on a potential permit scheme included that there would need to be an environmental impact assessment in order to gauge the capacity for creels and that there would also need to be monitoring to ensure no illegal or 'ghost' creeling.

17.3.16. These respondents also commented on moorings with many asking for clarification of the meaning of 'adjacent'.

17.3.17. Although one environment /conservation respondent answered 'no' they said that they would support a "locally-limited permit scheme for creel vessels" but queried the location of the proposed moorings and said they could not support moorings on the edge of the seagrass beds.

17.3.18. Two mobile fishing respondents made the same comment:

".. the original restrictions imposed through the South Arran Marine Conservation Order 2014 were required to ensure the conservation objective for maerl beds could be achieved (and indeed were informed by Marine Scotland that this was essential). The introduction of a permit scheme to permit creel activity in these areas is very much at odds with the legal duty to ensure that fishing in a Marine Protected Area is managed so that the conservation objective (of "restore") can be achieved."

17.3.19. In relation to the approaches put forward for the South Arran MPA, respondents were asked: 'Do you support the preferred approach (number 3) for managing the protected area?' and, as can be seen in Table 17.1, 102 out of the 110 who answered said no. Seven said 'yes' and one mobile fishing respondent commented but did not specify a yes /no answer.

17.3.20. In addition, one hundred respondents said that they do not support any of the proposed management approaches for this MPA.

Table 17 . 1: South Arran MPA - Support for preferred management approach



Other comments

No reply

Individuals (133)





Environment / Conservation (17)





Inshore Fisheries Group ( IFG) (3)





Industry / Transport (6)





Mobile fishing (8)





Local authority (3)





Local group (7)





Recreation / Tourism (13)





Static fishing (4)





Other (2)





Total (196)





17.3.21. Three of those who supported the preferred approach (Approach 3) commented. One individual said they supported this approach on condition that hand creeling scallop diving angling and anchoring are allowed. They also commented that a complete ban on trawling or dredging would be a more simple solution. Another individual commented that there will need to be tight control on vessel size and gear and action taken where non-compliance is observed.

17.3.22. A local authority respondent said that while this approach gives the greatest level of protection it will also have an economic impact on mobile gear fishing. They said: "It is therefore important that the overall impact of management measures for other MPAs in the Firth of Clyde are considered cumulatively to ensure that significant detrimental economic impacts to do not occur in coastal communities which rely heavily on the fishing industry, such as Campbeltown, Carradale and Tarbert". This respondent also commented: "The consultation document does not detail how fishing opportunities will be allocated through the permit scheme, however the Council would expect that local vessels with a history of fishing within the MPA would be given priority".

17.3.23. Seventy-eight of those who answered 'no' commented only on the South Arran MPA. These respondents, mainly individuals, did not support any of the proposed approaches for this MPA and the key theme from these responses was support for a complete ban on any dredging or trawling in the area.

17.3.24. This view was shared by other respondents from the environment /conservation, recreation /tourism and static fishing groups, who also said they did not support this or any of the other proposed approaches for the South Arran MPA.

17.3.25. The main reasons given by these respondents included:

  • That the proposals do not offer a high enough level of protection.
  • That there should be a 3-mile limit to allow recovery and protect future stocks, and that this would be more easily enforced.
  • That re-introduction of a 3-mile limit would be a small reduction in the available commercial fishing zones.
  • That a 3-mile limit would lead to economic growth: respondents quoted the Scottish Government report: 'Management Of The Scottish Inshore Fisheries; Assessing The Options For Change' which stated that "Scotland could create more jobs and generate an excess of economic benefits over costs by imposing a 0-3 NM restriction on the use of mobile gear".
  • Comments on the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone which respondents feel proves that a 'no take' zone is the best approach.
  • That the proposed zones, described as "patchwork" or "a jigsaw" are confusing for fishermen and will be impossible to enforce.
  • That the proposals overlook the wishes of a great many respondents to a previous consultation for trawling and dredging be banned from the area.
  • The need to give further consideration to approaches that promote sustainable fishing methods such as creel fishermen and commercial diving.
  • Queries as to how the proposals will lead to Good Environmental Status by 2015 under the Water Framework Directive if bottom trawling on burrowed mud is allowed.
  • Queries as to how the MPA will be able to contribute to the Scottish Government's plans for a revived Clyde, under the Clyde 2020 initiative, if dredging and trawling are permitted.

17.3.26. Other comments from environment /conservation respondents included the need for buffer zones as the areas proposed overlap or are close to sensitive areas. One of these respondents pointed out that "Vessels could remain outwith the protected zones but the gear they tow could easily cut across the protected zones as the vessels turn".

17.3.27. Another commented: "The South Arran MPA is another example where management approaches have used an interpretation of scientific evidence provided to develop inadequate management approaches which will fail to meet the conservation objectives, and therefore legal obligations of the MPA. Scientific evidence must inform management decisions and protect species and habitats where they occur within the MPA. This is in addition to wider seas measure for PMF species outwith the MPA. It is essential for the integrity of marine protected areas in Scotland that a scientific approach be consistently applied and that decisions about management consider the overarching reasons for the inception of marine protection in Scotland."

17.3.28. A further environment /conservation respondent submitted a detailed response relating to seagrasses and other habitats. They voiced concern that proposals will not "adequately protect marine habitats and species from damaging fishing activities, such as Seagrass Meadows (Zostera marina)". This respondent commented on the critical role seagrasses play in supporting Atlantic Cod and said that the boundaries of many management areas are too close to protected features. They wanted to see use of bottom-towed and mobile fishing gear prohibited in all protected areas.

17.3.29. Four respondents from the mobile fishing group also said that they do not support the preferred management approach. Two felt that the "boundaries for the designated scallop dredge area are more restrictive than is necessary to meet the conservation objectives". One of these respondents also commented that "On the basis of the cost summaries provided, this option represents a very significant increase in loss to the scallop sector".

17.3.30. Another from this group queried why trawlers above 100GRT are excluded from the MPA and commented that "The consultation makes no mention of exploring voluntary management options". This respondent felt that seasonal derogations could be available for nephrops trawlers in order to avowing displacement of effort. The fourth mobile fishing respondent pointed out that the area provides a fishing area in bad weather and felt that this economic aspect should be taken into account.

17.3.31. A further mobile fishing respondent, who did not give a 'yes' or 'no' response, commented that they have "worked with Marine Scotland representatives in order to reimagine possible approaches which protect the burrowed mud and allow fair access. This area offers shelter to many fishing vessels in poor weather and as such requires careful consideration".

17.3.32. Those respondents who did not support the preferred option were asked: 'Do you support one of the other approaches?':

  • Four (two individuals, a local group and a mobile fishing respondent) favoured Approach 1; none gave reasons for this view.
  • As described at the previous question, one hundred said 'no' (almost all of these respondents wanted to see a complete ban on trawling and dredging in the area).

17.3.33. Four respondents from the mobile fishing group had an alternative reason for saying 'no'.

17.3.34. Two commented that information has indicated that there is no maerl in much of the area classified as maerl beds and felt that there was "scope for amendments that allow a degree of access to said areas". One also asked that the views of local associations are considered in relation to a permit scheme and any refinement to fisheries management measures.

17.3.35. Two others proposed an alternative approach that they described as "a fair and balanced compromise combining features of several of the suggested approaches". This approach would apply the same rules to dredging as to trawling with the area extended to the South West of the Island. In addition, the scallop dredging boundary would be reconsidered and amended.

17.3.36. The maps submitted by these respondents are produced in Figure 17. 1 and Figure 17.2 for reference.

Figure 17. 1: Alternative proposal for dredging in the South Arran MPA

Figure 17. 1: Alternative proposal for dredging in the South Arran MPA

Figure 17.2: Alternative Proposal for trawling in the South Arran Area

Figure 17.2: Alternative Proposal for trawling in the South Arran Area

17.3.37. In relation to permits these respondents "agreed that in open areas with addition of permits under license there should be:

  • 6 month winter fishing from October to March.
  • A weekend ban (as is currently the case).
  • A curfew from 7am to 9pm could be imposed.
  • Towbars set at 6 aside.
  • 75GRT (Scallops) and 120 (Trawlers).
  • Minimum landing of 105 for the first two years increased to 110 in the
    third year (phased)."

17.3.38. These respondents also asked that consideration be given to:

  • People who have recently purchased a fishing vessel.
  • Grandfather rights or 10 years fishing experience.
  • The number of Irish vessels in the area.
  • A limit of 120GRT for the whole Clyde area.
  • A query as to whether a permit would rest with the skipper or the vessel.
  • Suggestions for other conditions for permits such as stability clauses or time conditions or curfews.

17.3.39. Finally, in this section, seven respondents, including five individuals and one each from the local authority and static fishing groups, said 'yes' they do agree with the economic, social, and environmental assessments of the impact of the management approaches. Seventeen said 'no'; these respondents came mainly from the environment /conservation, individual local groups and recreation /tourism groups of respondents. Seven, mostly mobile fishing, respondents made other comments.

17.3.40. Two of those who said they agree, an individual and a local authority, commented further. The individual felt that the proposed measures will, in the short term, create difficulties for those who trawl in the area. However, in the longer term the measures "may well deliver increased opportunities for low impact fisheries in the Clyde, increase in sea angling once again and a more diverse ecosystem". The local authority commented on the need to consider the cumulative, as well as individual, economic impact of measures across all MPAs within the Clyde.

17.3.41. Thirteen of those, mainly from the environment /conservation group, who said they do not agree with the economic, social, and environmental assessments of the impact of the management approaches, also commented. The main points raised by these respondents are outlined below.

17.3.42. An environment /conservation respondent commented on the need for year-round protection for burrowing organisms saying: "The proposed measures are overly complex and enforcement will be virtually impossible for vessels without VMS". Another, from the same group, commented that given the ecological status of the Clyde, the proposed management measures are inadequate to achieve the conservation objective of recover for maerl and conserve for all other protected features here".

17.3.43. Others, from the environment /conservation, individual and recreation /tourism groups, felt that closing the area to mobile gear would result in economic and employment benefits to the area and the fishing industry.

17.3.44. Other environment /conservation respondents felt that the assessments have failed to consider benefits that the proposed measures may bring to the area over time and that nor have other benefits such as well-being.

17.3.45. There was a comment, from a mobile fishing respondent, that "the economics of the fleet should be paramount" while an individual said that measures restricting fishing, creeling and anchorage would have "a detrimental effect on an already fragile economy".

17.3.46. A respondent from the recreation /tourism group commented on anchorages saying "the proposals to ban anchoring are disproportionate and inconsistent with views expressed early in the MPA project that bans would only be considered where voluntary measures were not considered appropriate". Their reasons include: that SNH advice states seagrass beds have adequate protection; that the anchorage in question is used infrequently; that the anchorage has been in use for more than 90 years; that no case has been made linking anchoring with damage to seagrass beds; that there may be problems with implementation as "as it is unlikely that the UKHO will mark MPA boundaries or the measures for their protection (including no anchor zones) on their charts "; that a Code of Practice would be a more suitable measure.

17.3.47. Seven others, who did not specify agreement or disagreement with the economic, social, and environmental assessments of the impact of the management approaches, commented as follows:

  • An environment /conservation respondent again commented on the need for a total ban on mobile gear in the area.
  • Another from the same group felt that the measures proposed focussed only on the needs of the commercial sector.
  • Another from this group commented that "assessment of displacement does not consider the implications for sustainable fisheries management of the wider nephrops functional unit".
  • A further mobile fishing respondent said that while they agree with the environmental concerns, "at all times a fair balance with the social and economic benefits which fishing brings to the area should at all times be carefully factored".
  • An individual felt that limited sea angling and creeling is only acceptable where this protects local interests.

17.4. We Did

17.4.1. Please see broad issues section regarding the environmental report, creel fishing, benefits, and the "assessing options for change" report.

17.4.2. The Scottish Government accepts that to a non-fishing audience varying zones for differing gear types may appear confusing. These have been simplified accordingly to address this.

17.4.3. The approach advocated by the Clyde Fisherman's Association has positive elements particularly in relation to effort control of the scallop fishery. However we are of the view that the spatial measures proposed would not be sufficient. There would be a significant risk of hindering the achievement of the conservation objectives for maerl beds, maerl and coarse shell gravel with burrowing sea cucumbers, and burrowed mud.

17.4.4. The environmental report of the management measures concluded that 100% displacement of all demersal trawl fishing from the site could be detrimental elsewhere. As this fishing effort is likely to remain in the Firth of Clyde then such an action could be detrimental to the Clyde 2020 initiative. Therefore in the absence of a fully prepared Clyde 2020 programme of measures the Scottish Government has concluded that a zonal management approach for trawling remains both proportionate and appropriate.

17.4.5. The use of a capacity restriction is to limit pressure overall. The spatial element reduces pressure by removing it from a proportion of habitats such as burrowed mud.

17.4.6. To minimise the risk of impact on the recovery of the maerl beds within the South Arran MPA the use of mechanical dredges will be prohibited throughout.

17.4.7. We note the concerns expressed from an economic perspective relating to fisheries. However given the resources of the wider Clyde it is anticipated that any vessels affected will still have sufficient fishing opportunities. We also see the South Arran MPA as a very small part of the nephrops functional unit. This means that there is still plenty of opportunity for nephrops quota to be taken.

17.4.8. The Scottish Government accepts the view that issues relating to moorings can be addressed through the marine licensing system. Furthermore issues relating to anchoring can be addressed through the management plan in conjunction with local stakeholders, sailing interests, and Scottish Natural Heritage.

17.4.9. As the restrictions proposed for mobile gear fisheries are more ambitious the spatial requirement for static gear restrictions has been reduced. Therefore smaller zones for no static gear are proposed. This negates the need for permit schemes which makes things easier, particularly for recreational fishers.

17.4.10. We intend to implement measures to protect all the habitat and species of the South Arran MPA using a Marine Conservation Order under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010. These measures will;

  • Prohibit the use of the following fishing methods - suction dredge, mechanical dredge, beam trawl, demersal trawl - throughout the MPA.
  • By way of derogation demersal trawl will be permitted in specified areas by vessels of less than 120 registered gross tonnes.
  • In addition all static gear will be prohibited from 4 small zones - three for recovery of maerl beds, and one for conservation of seagrass beds.
  • There will be no change to the current level of protection in the area known as the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone. The existing measures - The Inshore Fishing (Prohibition on Fishing) (Lamlash Bay) (Scotland) Order 2008 ( SSI 2008/317) - will be revoked and replaced as part of this process.

17.4.11. The measures and their ecological value are shown in appendix 17.


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