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.

8. Loch Creran MPA / SAC

8.1. Introduction

8.1.1. Loch Creran MPA was designated to protect the flame shell beds while Loch Creran was designated as a SAC for its reefs.

8.1.2. The consultation presented two possible management approaches for this area. These are in addition to the existing restrictions on trawl, scallop dredge, and creel activity already in place for the protection of the serpulid aggregations and horse mussel beds. The proposed approaches were:

  • Approach 1 would prohibit the use of suction dredges (boat or diver operated) throughout the MPA / SAC. A new spatial measure would prohibit trawling at Eriska Narrows where there is a flame shell bed.
  • Approach 2 would prohibit the use of trawls and suction dredges (boat or diver operated) throughout the MPA / SAC.

8.2. We Asked

8.2.1. The consultation asked: 'Do you support the preferred approach (number 1) for managing this protected area?' Follow up questions were asked, including whether the alternate approach would be supported.

8.2.2. The consultation also asked whether there should be a permit scheme to maintain trawl effort at current levels under approach 1.

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

8.3. You Said

8.3.1. Opinions were extremely mixed in relation to the support of the proposed approaches.

8.3.2. With respect to support for the preferred approach ten respondents answered 'yes', including the three mobile fishing respondents; 19 respondents answered 'no' including the three static fishing respondents who specified a response. Opinions were divided amongst environment /conservation organisations although only two supported Approach 1, compared with eight who did not. A full summary of the responses can be found in Table 8.1.

Table 8.1: Loch Creran MPA/ SAC - 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)





8.3.3. One static fishing respondent commented without giving an indication of support or otherwise and this response is shown in the 'other comments' column in the table above. The respondent simply stated: "we support proportionate conservation measures with minimum impact on commercial fisheries".

8.3.4. Fifteen respondents went on to make further comments, seven of those who supported the preferred approach and eight - comprising seven environment /conservation organisations and an individual - who opposed it.

8.3.5. The main themes from the seven environment /conservation organisations and the individual respondent who did not support Approach 1 related to concerns over potential damage from trawling activity throughout the site and a belief that Approach 1 is not sufficiently precautionary. Further, an environment /conservation respondent that answered 'yes' commented that Approach 1 provided the lowest level of management required to meet the conservation objectives of the MPA / SAC. The respondent stressed the importance of monitoring activity if this approach is chosen and added: "This is particularly important in this MPA/ SAC as this part of the west coast of Scotland has other protected areas from which displaced fishing effort could impact upon Loch Creran MPA / SAC".

8.3.6. One environment /conservation respondent commented that "all" potential fishing impacts on the site should be prevented and another that they would prefer a 'no take' throughout the SAC. The latter added that "any attempt to open this SAC will be subject to Hebridean Partnership advising the EC".

8.3.7. Another environment /conservation respondent noted support for continuation of creeling "providing it is operated at environmentally sustainable levels and an appropriate assessment is carried out to determine its potential impacts on the features".

8.3.8. The key theme in comments from the seven respondents supporting Approach 1 related to the balance it affords between sustainable commercial fishing interests and maintaining conservation objectives for protected features.

8.3.9. Two environment /conservation organisations added: "additional restrictions as proposed under Approach 2 are unnecessary as it is evident that the features requiring additional protection are effectively self-protecting due to the nature of the habitat. While recognising that the costs involved are relatively small, opportunities here are important for those involved".

8.3.10. A local authority additionally commented: "There are however no management proposals to restrict or prohibit the commercial collection of horse mussels from Loch Creran which is a gap in management of the SAC which was identified by the Argyll SAC Management Forum a number of years ago".

8.3.11. Respondents were also asked: 'Under the preferred approach should there be a permit scheme to maintain trawl effort at current levels?' Sixteen respondents answered 'no' whilst five answered 'yes'. Fourteen respondents, 11 who answered 'no' and three who answered 'yes' added further comments

8.3.12. Two individuals, two environment /conservation organisations and a tourism /recreation respondent that answered 'no' commented to the effect that no trawling /dredging should be permitted whatsoever. Two of these also commented that there should be compensation and/or alternative work found for the single boat that would be affected.

8.3.13. A further two environment /conservation respondents that answered 'no', and a third that answered nether 'yes' nor 'no', commented that appropriate assessment of impact should be undertaken before a permit scheme is considered. Another environment /conservation respondent that answered 'yes' expressed a similar view that an assessment is needed.

8.3.14. Three mobile fishing respondents that answered 'no' expressed concern that a permit system could impose future restrictions on the current low-level activity.

8.3.15. One individual respondent suggested that a non-transferrable permit should be issued to protect the livelihood of the fisherman who works there.

8.3.16. A local authority expressed support for a permit scheme if it was necessary but noted "that there is already a restriction in the size of trawling vessel which can fish in the loch i.e. greater than 10m vessels are prohibited".

8.3.17. Those who did not support the preferred option were asked: 'Do you support the other approach?' and fifteen respondents answered 'yes' whilst four answered 'no'.

8.3.18. Ten respondents who supported the alternative approach made additional comments, as did two respondents who answered 'no'. The comments made by those who supported Approach 2 largely served to reiterate and reinforce reasons given for being opposed to Approach 1. Additional comments included:

  • The suggestion of an ecological case to be made for the MPA boundary to be extended to Appin narrows.
  • A suggestion as to ways of re-employing the fishing boat currently using the site, either as a patrol vessel or through grants to develop alternative fisheries.
  • A suggestion that greater consideration should be given to the interests of creel fishermen.
  • Support for sustainable /non-damaging levels of creeling, subject to Appropriate Assessment and monitoring of its impacts.

8.3.19. The respondents who did not support the alternative approach were an individual who commented they would support Approach 2 if scallop dredging was also prohibited and an environment /conservation organisation that cited a potential bias in favour of commercial fishing and suggested consideration of 'no take' throughout the SAC.

8.3.20. Finally, eight respondents, comprising three individuals, two static fishing, one environment /conservation, one local authority and one local group answered 'yes' in response to whether they agreed with the economic, social, and environmental assessments of the impact of the management approaches. Ten respondents, comprising five environment /conservation organisations, two individuals, a recreation /tourism organisation, a local group and a mobile fishing respondent answered 'no'.

8.3.21. Ten respondents made further comments at this question.

8.3.22. Three environment /conservation respondents that answered 'no' commented that that the assessment has failed to consider the benefits that the proposed measures may bring, whether economic, social, health and/or environmental. A fourth suggested that: "consideration of economic benefit under Approach 2 does not assess the potential economic benefit for the single trawler of switching exclusively to creels, for which there is the potential for that skipper to be the only one licensed to creel in the sea loch system".

8.3.23. Two respondents in the mobile fishing group that did not answer 'yes' or 'no' commented on lack of time to review the environmental report. Both respondents 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.

8.3.24. An individual that answered 'yes' commented: "The balance between complete closure and economic impact to a small community is a fine one, so compliance to zoning and other management options will be important. A non-transferrable licence scheme would be possible here, either under Inshore Fishing Act or Marine Conservation Order. Control of recreational creelers will be important in such a sensitive habitat". Another individual respondent simply felt there was "too little information".

8.3.25. A local authority agreed that there is unlikely to be any significant financial impact on activities or displacement of fishing activity from the proposed measures in Approach 1. A tourism /recreation organisation observed that there are successful existing measures in place to manage anchoring and mooring at this site, which the respondent felt should be acknowledged as part of the assessment.

8.4. We Did

8.4.1. As a SAC for Serpulid reefs and horse mussel reefs, and a MPA for flame shell beds Loch Creran can be considered to be a biogenic reef hotspot. The Scottish Government would like it to remain so, and therefore propose measures to minimise risk to these wonderful habitats. The Scottish government does not consider the habitats of Loch Creran as self-protecting.

8.4.2. The case for extension of this site (or indeed any others) will be part of the network review process that will take place in 2018. The calls for Appropriate Assessment have been addressed in the broad issues section.

8.4.3. Scallop dredging is already prohibited by the existing measures which is why it wasn't explicitly covered in Approach 2.

8.4.4. The lack of economic data for Loch Creran is driven by no overlap from the SCOTMAP process with trawl data.

8.4.5. The original preferred approach was an enhancement of the existing management measures that are in place.. However through the consultation it has been identifies that this may not be sufficient to allow maintenance or enhancement of these habitats. The one vessel which would be affected already has creel fishing capability which means there is a low impact.

8.4.6. To minimise the risks associated with static gears the areas within the loch were creeling can take place need refinement to provide greater protection to the biogenic reef habitats. This is to enable enhancement rather than prevent deterioration. This new spatial constraint negates the need of any other form of creel fishing control or limitation.

8.4.7. The existing The Inshore Fishing (Prohibited Methods of Fishing) (Loch Creran) Order 2007 ( SSI 2007/185) will be revoked and replaced by the new measures.

8.4.8. We intend to implement the following measures by an Order under the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984;

  • The following activities will be prohibited throughout the Loch Creran SAC / MPA - suction dredging, mechanical dredging, beam trawl, all other forms of trawling / seining (including pelagic), set nets, long lining, and creeling.
  • By way of derogation creeling will be permitted in 2 specified zones.
  • The removal of horse mussels will also be prohibited.

8.4.9. The measures and their ecological value are shown in appendix 8.


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