Outcome report summary
As a result of the stakeholder views received for the Consultation on Landing Controls for the Scottish Crab and Lobster Fisheries, along with the analysis performed in the preparation of that document and this outcome report, Marine Scotland will be introducing the following management measures:
- The minimum landing size of brown crab will be increased to 150 mm carapace width (excluding Shetland)
- The minimum landing size of velvet crab will be increased to 70 mm carapace width
- The landing of berried velvet crab will be prohibited
- The minimum landing size of lobster will be increased to 90 mm carapace length on the west coast (excluding the Solway Firth).
- The maximum landing size of female lobster will be decreased to 145 mm carapace length (excluding Orkney and Shetland)
- Sale and carriage prohibitions will be introduced alongside the minimum landing size prohibition for velvet crab
Marine Scotland will not be introducing the following management measures at this time:
- A minimum landing size for lobster of 90 mm carapace length on the east coast
- A maximum landing size for male lobster of 145 mm carapace length
- A prohibition on the landing of 'crippled' lobster
Marine Scotland will now begin the process of legislating to bring these measures into force in 2017.
Other issues raised by respondents
Respondents also took the opportunity in their responses to raise for consideration additional management measures not proposed in the consultation. Marine Scotland would like to highlight those issues that were shared by respondents around the coast.
Prohibiting the landing of berried lobster
Some suggested that the landing of berried velvet crab, the landing of berried lobster should also be prohibited in order to protect egg-bearing females.
As a result of this consultation process female lobster will be given additional protection by decreasing the maximum landing size to 145 mm carapace length, and this should help to improve the reproductive potential of the stock and result in greater recruitment to the fishery.
Marine Scotland has also promoted the v-notching of berried lobster in order to remove them from the fishery, as it is an offense to land lobsters that either bear a v-notch or have been mutilated in such a way as to obscure a v-notch. Marine Scotland supplied v-notch clippers to fishermen around the coast in 2014.
However, Marine Scotland can see the potential benefits of restricting the landing of berried lobster and would recommend that this measure be explored through the RIFG network.
There were concerns at a perceived increase in the number of creels being deployed around the coast, and the possible effect this could be having on the health of crab and lobster stocks, with some calling for a limit on creel numbers to be introduced.
Marine Scotland consulted on the introduction of creel limits in 2012 . However, a majority of respondents at the time did not support such a measure, and highlighted a lack of data to support its introduction.
Marine Scotland recognises that there is a lack of data on the level of effort in the static gear sector, and to rectify this changes have recently been made to the landing declarations that under 10 metre vessels are required to submit.
Marine Scotland has also been conducting surveys of static fishing gear effort in order to better understand the level of fishing activity taking place in Scottish waters. West coast fishermen were surveyed in late 2015, and east coast fishermen were surveyed during 2016. Marine Scotland intends to publish a report on the findings of these surveys in spring 2017.
Unlicensed/hobby fishing activity
The issue of hobby/unlicensed fishing activity was also raised. While this activity is difficult to measure due to its very nature, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest this is a significant issue in particular parts of the Scottish coast, and one which can increase during spring/summer months.
IFMAC established a short-life working group to discuss this issue and report back with possible actions to reduce the incidence of unlicensed commercial fishing. Based on the working group's recommendations, Marine Scotland consulted on proposed measures for hobby/unlicensed fishermen in 2015.
It was clear from responses to the consultation that there was wide support for the principle that fishermen who are not licensed to fish on a commercial basis should have reasonable restrictions in place to limit the number, per species, of certain shellfish that they can take. Following a further seeking of views in summer 2016, Marine Scotland intends to introduce daily catch limits for hobby/unlicensed fishermen in spring 2017.
Further information can be found at www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Sea-Fisheries/InshoreFisheries/unlicensed.
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