4. Development of the Fishery
4.1 Recent Trends in Landings in the Queen Scallop Fishery
The queen scallop fishery has historically provided fairly consistent annual landings of around 10-15,000 tonnes from all fishing areas (Figure 3). However, from 2009 landings rose rapidly reaching almost 60,000 tonnes by 2012. This trend was shown in several fishing areas, but particularly in divisions VIa and VIIa, and represents a significant expansion of the fishery. Although probably linked to a major recruitment event and natural expansion of the stock, the long-term implications of this increase in fishing effort are unknown.
Figure 3 Annual landings of queen scallops (tonnes live weight) from European waters between 1974 and 2013. Landings are shown from major fishing statistical divisions (see also Figure 1) (Source: ICES).
4.2 Recent Trends in Effort in the Queen Scallop Fishery
As stock abundance increased and market conditions improved, increasing numbers of fishing vessels have entered the fishery (Figure 4) responding to recent high stock levels, unrestricted entry and limited management controls.
In addition, there are significantly more vessels which are eligible to fish for queen scallops should they choose to do so, and this 'latent capacity' is also a potential problem for the long-term management of the fishery.
Figure 4 Number of UK fishing vessels recording landings of queen scallops into UK ports between 2006 and 2015 (from all fishing areas) (Source: MMO).