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
21. Wester Ross MPA

236 page PDF

11.9 MB

21. Wester Ross MPA

21.1. Introduction

21.1.1. Wester Ross MPA was designated to protect a wide range of seabed habitats and geodiversity. The consultation presented two management approaches for this MPA, both of which would prohibit the use of suction dredges (boat or diver operated) and introduce a vessel capacity restriction of 150 Gross Registered Tonnage ( GRT). We also stated that additional measures would be required for burrowed mud and circalittoral muddy sand communities under approach 1.

  • Approach 1 would deliver zonal management for the protection of the maerl beds and flame shell beds through prohibiting the use of demersal trawls or mechanical dredges.
  • Approach 2 would prohibit the use of demersal trawls or mechanical dredges on a zonal basis for all habitats.

21.2. We Asked

21.2.1. 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.

21.2.2. The consultation asked: 'Should static gear fisheries be restricted in the areas essential to the recovery of maerl beds and flame shell beds?' and 'Under either approach should the Summer Isles area be zoned by depth to enable scallop dredging to continue?'

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

21.3. You Said

21.3.1. In response to whether respondents supported the preferred management approach 11 respondent answered 'yes' and 29 answered 'no'. All mobile fishing respondents and local authorities that answered were opposed to the preferred approach, whilst opinions were mixed across other respondent groupings. Table 21.1 summarises all responses received.

21.3.2. Six of the respondents that answered this question, five that answered 'no' and one that answered 'yes', commented only on the Small Isles and Wester Ross and no other areas discussed within the consultation. Four of the six were individual respondents and the other two were environment /conservation organisations.

Table 21.1: Wester Ross MPA - Support for preferred management approach

Yes

No

Other comments

No reply

Individuals (133)

4

7

22

100

Environment / Conservation (17)

3

10

-

4

Inshore Fisheries Group ( IFG) (3)

1

1

-

1

Industry / Transport (6)

-

-

4

2

Mobile fishing (8)

-

5

-

3

Local authority (3)

-

2

-

1

Local group (7)

1

1

1

4

Recreation / Tourism (13)

1

1

-

11

Static fishing (4)

1

2

1

-

Other (2)

-

-

-

2

Total (196)

11

29

28

128

21.3.3. Twenty-eight respondents commented without giving an indication of support or otherwise and these are counted in the 'other comments' column in the table above. Twenty-seven of these 28 respondents commented only on the Small Isles and Wester Ross and no other areas discussed within the consultation. Twenty-four of them expressed support for a possible agreement on the area that had been made between MNWFA and Marine Scotland on January 30th 2015. The map referenced in these comments is reproduced in Figure 21.1 for reference.

Figure 21.1: Alternative management proposal for the Wester Ross MPA

Figure 21.1: Alternative management proposal for the Wester Ross MPA

21.3.4. Six respondents that supported Approach 2 as presented in the consultation added comments. One of these, an inshore fisheries group, noted: "any further reduction in mobile effort within the proposed MPA would cause serious problems for smaller mobile vessels in inclement weather". A mobile fishing and an individual respondent that answered 'no' also expressed concerns regarding safety linked to closure to mobile vessels, whilst nevertheless expressing slightly reluctant acceptance of the idea of bringing in the extended burrowed mud grounds of Wester Ross.

21.3.5. The main theme from those that answered 'yes' was that a more precautionary approach with zonal management applied to all habitats is preferable.

21.3.6. Some environment /conservation organisations that answered 'yes' noted that further areas of maerl had been located in a recent survey and the respondents commented that they would expect the controlled zones to be extended to include these. Suggestions were included for these revisions. In addition, several respondents that answered 'no', particularly environment /conservation organisations, also commented on newly located areas of maerl as a reason for not supporting Approach 2 as described in the consultation.

21.3.7. Another theme in comments, from those that did not support Approach 2 as detailed, related to the need to balance the interests and socio-economic impacts of commercial fishing with environmental needs. In contrast, a small number of respondents favoured prohibition of all dredging and trawling throughout the MPA.

21.3.8. Two mobile fishing respondents commented that the proposal to implement a capacity restriction of 150GRT across the MPA is unnecessary and imposes a restriction on vessels that currently operate on the western boundary of the MPA.

21.3.9. Those who did not support the preferred option were asked: 'Do you support the other approach?' and five respondents answered 'yes' whilst 23 respondents answered 'no'. Those that answered 'no' and added comments predominantly indicated that they felt the approach offered inadequate protection or that they advocated total exclusion of dredging and trawling.

21.3.10. The respondents that supported Approach 1 comprised two mobile fishing respondents, an inshore fisheries group, a local authority and an individual. Three of these respondents added comment here that a depth zoning approach should be used under this approach.

21.3.11. Respondents were also asked: 'Should static gear fisheries be restricted in the areas essential to the recovery of maerl beds and flame shell beds?' Twenty respondents answered 'yes' and seven respondents answered 'no'.

21.3.12. Only three of those who answered 'no' made further comment. A static fishing organisation commented that this would not be necessary if dredging and trawling were prohibited and an individual commented: "static gear protects areas from damage such as bottom trawling". Another individual respondent commented that static gear is less impactful on the habitats but added: "gear conflict with mobiles may well cause damage by hauling the creels along the bed/reef or flame shell beds". The respondent felt this emphasised the need for mobile gear to be zoned away from these features.

21.3.13. Three main themes emerged in comments from those that answered 'yes' that static gear fisheries should be restricted in the areas essential to the recovery of maerl beds and flame shell beds.

21.3.14. The first, most commonly evident in responses from environment /conservation organisations, was that this would give the best likelihood of the long-term recovery of these features the MPA.

21.3.15. The second theme was that more research should be undertaken and / or made available regarding the impact of static gear on these features; this could then inform decisions regarding restrictions.

21.3.16. The third theme, sometimes directly linked to the second, was that an appropriate permit scheme should be developed in order to balance the interests of the static fishing sector and the recovery of these features.

21.3.17. A mobile fishing respondent commented: "there must always be a balanced and equal approach to all marine sectors when determining appropriate management measures".

21.3.18. The consultation then asked: 'Under either approach should the Summer Isles area be zoned by depth to enable scallop dredging to continue?' Twenty-four respondents, predominantly individuals, answered 'yes' and 20 respondents answered 'no'.

21.3.19. Twenty-two of those that answered 'yes' added comments, mostly indicating that this seemed to represent an acceptable /agreeable proposal and /or would keep scallop fishing viable in the area. Three individual respondents also felt that a total ban in this area would result in displacement of activity to other locations.

21.3.20. Three mobile fishing respondents and an inshore fisheries group commented that zoning by depth would ensure no impact on protected features; two commented further on the use of underwater cameras in this respect.

21.3.21. The twenty respondents that answered 'no' comprised seven environment /conservation organisations, six individuals, two local groups, two static fishing organisations, a local authority and two recreation /tourism respondents. The major theme from those that commented was that there should be no scallop dredging in the area.

21.3.22. Three respondents commented that depth zoning is difficult to enforce and /or that they believe there are examples of instances where scallop dredgers have not adhered to depth limitations.

21.3.23. Finally, in this section, respondents were asked: 'Do you agree with the economic, social, and environmental assessments of the impact of the management approaches?' Twelve answered 'yes' and ten answered 'no'.

21.3.24. Only two of the respondents that answered 'yes' added comments. A recreation / tourism organisation commented that the area is popular with recreational divers and expressed the view that protection of the marine environment is essential to the continued attraction of divers and the economic benefits they bring to the region. An individual commented: "some valuable inshore fishery data from local, small scale fishermen in under 14m or even under 10m vessels would have added extra weight of evidence for the local communities".

21.3.25. Eight of the respondents that answered 'no' commented. The key theme in these comments was that greater emphasis is placed on costs to the mobile fishing sector than on potential economic and social benefits that might be accrued as a result of restricting mobile fishing.

21.3.26. One respondent that answered 'no' commented that the environmental report was not available at the start of the consultation and another that they support an approach submitted by Scottish environment LINK that takes account of additional records of listed features.

21.3.27. Five respondents made comments without giving a definitive 'yes' or 'no' answer. Their comments included:

  • A perception that the opinions of creelers and scallop divers have at times been supressed in the interests of other fishing sectors.
  • A view that recreational anchoring "on the east side of Tanera More, Acairsaid Driseach on the west side, and places between Tanera Beg and Eilean Fada Mor" would not compromise the conservation objectives of the MPA .
  • References to a lack of time to consider the environmental report and reservations regarding the relevance and completeness of data provided in economic and social assessments.
  • A suggestion that the proposed management approach be revised to include more of the known occurrences of tall sea pens and sea pens.

21.4. We Did

21.4.1. Please see broad issues section regarding creel fishing, benefits, and the environmental report.

21.4.2. The Scottish Government welcomes the discovery of additional maerl beds within the MPA. We also note the request that potential maerl habitat is protected on a precautionary basis. These have been taken into account in the proposed measures.

21.4.3. The proposal from the Mallaig & Northwest Fisherman's Association is also welcomed. This provides the foundation of the revised Scottish Government demersal trawlmanagement proposal.

21.4.4. A significant number of stakeholders supported depth zonation of the scallop fishery at the Summer Isles. However the Scottish Government is of the view that in order to stimulate recovery of the maerl bed habitat there needs to be a considerable margin around them. We recognise the effort the fishing industry put into agreeing voluntary measures. These were designed to prevent any physical disturbance of the maerl beds. They were not designed to protect them from secondary effects such as sedimentation which can also have a profound effect. Therefore in order to recover the maerl bed habitat there will be no zonation by depth proposed at the Summer Isles.

21.4.5. To minimise the risk of impact on the recovery of the flame shell beds and maerl beds within the Wester Ross MPA the use of mechanical dredges will be prohibited throughout.

21.4.6. It is noted that there is some support for creel restrictions for recovery of maerl beds and flame shell beds. Whilst we haven't as yet proposed any measures, Marine Scotland would like to work with local stakeholders to consider what they should be.

21.4.7. The Scottish Government agrees that known recreational anchorages pose no threat to achieving the conservation objectives. Promoting the use of these known anchorages will be a feature of the management plan.

21.4.8. We propose to implement the following measures to protect all the habitat and species of the Wester Ross MPA using a Marine Conservation Order under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010;

  • Prohibit the use of the following fishing methods - suction dredge, mechanical dredge, beam trawl, and demersal trawl - throughout the MPA.
  • By way of derogation demersal trawl will be permitted in specified areas by vessels of less than 150 registered gross tonnes.
  • The existing seasonal mobile gear closure for Little Loch Broom and Gruinard Bay will be revoked as part of this process.

21.4.9. The measures and their ecological value are shown in appendix 21.


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