This consultation seeks views on new management measures in the Scottish king scallop ( Pecten maximus) fishery. The issues on which views are sought are:
- Increasing the minimum landing size of scallops
- Introducing new restrictions associated with the use of dredges
- Changes to licensing arrangements to restrict the upsizing of replacement vessels
- Placing restrictions on the time that vessels can spend at sea
The overall aim of these management proposals is to improve the management of effort in the fishery after an expansion in recent years and to attempt to increase the spawning stock biomass of the stock.
These proposals are informed by the report A Review of the Scottish Scallop Fishery carried out by Poseidon Consultants which investigated the scallop fishery in Scotland and made proposals around governance. The review can be accessed here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0045/00450683.pdf
The review came about as a result of a consultation Marine Scotland ran in 2012 on the introduction of changes to dredge restrictions and increasing the minimum landing size of scallops to 110 mm. No alterations to legislation came about as a result of that consultation, with respondents highlighting a lack of evidence to support the proposals.
The scallop fishery is highly important to Scotland with landings into Scotland worth £23 million last year. During the course of 2013, 86 vessels with a scallop entitlement prosecuted the fishery but nearly double that number have an entitlement allowing them to join the fishery in future.
Marine Scotland Science conducts regional stock surveys around the Scottish coast. The latest available assessments show that the health of the fishery varies around the coast. However, their recommendation for most areas is that fishing mortality should not increase and, at least for some areas, that management measures are taken to cut fishing mortality and increase the spawning stock biomass (the total weight of the fish in a stock that are old enough to spawn).
These measures fit with the Scottish Government's aim of having a well-managed and profitable scallop sector that helps support our coastal communities and encourages sustainable practises.