Consultation on New Controls in the Scottish King Scallop Fishery 2014

Consultation seeking views on possible new management measures in the Scottish king scallop fishery.

Consultation Proposals

The management proposals contained in this document are informed by the report A Review of the Scottish Scallop Fishery carried out by Poseidon Consultants. For this consultation, Marine Scotland has focused on four of the recommendations contained in the report in order to control the effort expended in the Scottish fishery and increase spawning stock biomass. Their aim is to underpin good management and promote the sustainability of the sector.

The four recommendations are:

  • Increasing the minimum landing size of scallops
  • Introducing new restrictions associated with the use of dredges
  • Changes to licensing arrangements which restrict the upsizing of replacement vessels
  • Placing restrictions on the time that vessels can spend at sea

Although these management proposals are informed by the Poseidon review, some variations to the recommendations contained within the report are also proposed in order to gain a greater understanding of stakeholder views. This is particularly true in relation to effort restrictions, where views are sought on the introduction of a limit on the number of days that vessels can spend fishing for scallops. This is in addition to the proposal in the Poseidon review regarding restrictions on the overnight fishing activity of vessels.

The recommendations of the Poseidon review were presented to the Inshore Fisheries Management and Conservation Group ( IFMAC) and were warmly supported by those industry and environmental representatives in attendance. The measures in this document have also been informed by discussions with members of the scallop industry and the considerations of IFGs.

Proposal 1 - Increasing the Minimum Landing Size of Scallops

Poseidon Proposals

The aim of a minimum landing size ( MLS) is to help prevent the landing of juvenile individuals and to allow at least some the opportunity to reproduce before being harvested. An increase in MLS should allow more individuals to reproduce before capture, potentially increasing long term yield and spawning stock biomass.

The Poseidon report recommended that as stocks around the Scottish coast appear to be in overall decline, the MLS of scallops landed should be increased on a Scotland wide basis (except for area VII a where the current MLS is 110 mm).

As noted in the report, establishing a causal relationship between MLS and recruitment is difficult. There is however evidence from elsewhere around the British Isles that increasing MLS can be effective in maintaining a stable fishery even where fishing effort is relatively high.

Marine Scotland has previously consulted on increasing the minimum landing size of scallops landed into Scotland to 110 mm. Although this was supported by many (and indeed some representatives advocated a larger increase), there were others, particularly those involved in catching and processing scallops, who opposed an increase to 110 mm, principally for two key reasons:

  1. They stated there were areas around the Scottish coast where few scallops reached 110 mm
  2. An increase to 110 mm would have a significant impact on the profitability of scallop vessels - particularly in the short term - as they adjusted to the increased MLS.

As part of their review, Poseidon conducted an analysis of market sampling data collected by Marine Scotland Science in order to estimate what the impact of increasing the MLS of scallops to either 105 mm or 110 mm would have on scallop landings around the Scottish coast. These figures should not be taken as absolute values, but as comparative guide to the scale of the impact

Assessment Area % of landings below 105 mm % of landings below 110 mm
Clyde 26% 57%
East Coast 0% 5%
Irish Sea 0% 0%
North East 0% 18%
North West 2% 19%
Orkney 0% 4%
Shetland 0% 3%
West of Kintyre 14% 41%
Total Landings 16% 41%

As can be seen from the above table, based on an analysis of market sampling data, an increase in MLS to 105 mm would have limited impact except in relation to the Clyde and West of Kintyre. However, the West of Kintyre has been identified by Marine Scotland Science as an area where spawning stock biomass should be increased.

Inshore Fisheries Groups - MLS Proposals

Inshore Fisheries Groups ( IFGs) are non-statutory bodies whose aim is to improve the management of Scotland's inshore fisheries out to 6 nautical miles and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments.

Proposals to increase the MLS of scallops have been developed by four of the IFGs set up around the Scottish coast.

The following IFGs have requested that, for their respective areas, the minimum landing size of scallops be increased:

IFG Area Proposed increase in MLS
Outer Hebrides 105
Clyde 110 over a two year period
North West 110
Orkney 110

An alternative to a nationwide MLS increase would be to do so only in those IFG areas which have identified increasing minimum landing size as an objective for their area. In order to give as full a picture as possible, views will be sought on increasing MLS in line with requests from IFGs.

For both of these possible scenarios carriage restrictions would be introduced. This would mean that if a national option is chosen all scallops carried in Scottish waters would have to conform to the national MLS. If a regional MLS is introduced then carriage restrictions would conform to IFG boundaries.

Consultation Question 1 - Do you support increasing the MLS of scallops?

Proposal 2 - Changes to licensing arrangements which restrict the upsizing of replacement vessels

In order to try to manage the effort expended in the fishery a recommendation of the Poseidon review is to try to limit the number and power of individual vessels in the fishery in two ways:

  1. Removing latent scallop entitlements in line with the recommendations of the Scottish Licensing Review Working Group
  2. Capping the upsizing of vessels involved in the Scottish scallop fishery

The first of these recommendations, the removal of latent entitlements, was considered in the consultation on the Review of the Scottish Licensing Review Working Group and a decision on the outcome of that consultation is due to be announced and will inform decisions taken following this consultation.

The second recommendation, capping the upsizing of existing vessels, relates to the replacement of vessels in the Scottish scallop fleet. The intention here is that any replacement scallop vessel must have the same engine size as those currently involved in the fishery.

Proposal 3 - Introducing new restrictions associated with the use of dredges

Over time, the number of scallop dredges that vessels can use has increased as the general size and power of vessels has grown. This has intensified scallop effort by allowing vessels to cover a greater area in a single tow. In order to counter this, dredge per side limits have been introduced to help control effort in the fishery. Current Scottish dredge limits and those in force in other parts of the British Isles are shown in the table below.

zone (n. miles) Scotland England Wales Northern Ireland Isle of Man
0-1 8 per side 8 per side banned 6 per side 25 feet total width
1-3 8 per side 8 per side 3 per side 6 per side
3-6 8 per side 8 per side 4 per side 6 per side 40 feet total 8 per side
6-12 10 per side 8 per side 7 per side 6 per side
12+ 14 per side no limits no limits no limits n/a

The existing Scottish legislation surrounding dredge limitations was introduced with The Prohibition of Fishing for Scallops (Scotland) Order 2003. Since that time other administrations have tightened their restrictions on the number of dredges that can be used and Scotland now has the least restrictive arrangements within its 12 nautical mile zone. Scotland also stands apart in that dredge numbers are restricted in the area outside 12 nautical miles to 14 per side.

The Poseidon report recommends that a bar length restriction be introduced within 12 nautical miles of the coast. This would:

  • Help reduce fishing effort in the 6-12 nautical mile zone
  • Aid enforcement - a criticism of the current regime is that vessels frequently flout the existing arrangements and exceed the number of dredges permitted

A single dredge length restriction based on 8 dredges per side within the 12 nautical mile zone would facilitate enforcement and help to control the effort expended in the 6-12 nautical mile zone.

The Poseidon report also recommends lifting the current dredge restrictions outside 12 nautical miles. Currently vessels are limited to carrying 14 dredges per side outside 12 nautical miles in Scottish waters. Though this may result in an increase in fishing effort in this zone and potentially result in greater fishing mortality, it is recommended on the basis that this would place Scotland on the same basis as the rest of the United Kingdom and Crown Dependencies and compensate larger vessels for new restrictions in the 0-12 nautical mile zone.

We are aware that should consensus be reached on removing the restrictions outside 12 nautical miles, Marine Scotland would have to consider its statutory obligations under requirements of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005, prior to progressing this proposal.

Proposal 4 - Placing restrictions on effort of vessels

There has been an overall increase in the effort expended in Scottish waters in recent years. This overall increase in effort is exacerbating the situation in Scotland, where the advice from Marine Scotland Science (for areas assessed) is either for fishing mortality to be cut or for no increase in fishing effort.

Overnight Curfew

The Poseidon Report recommends that an overnight curfew is introduced in the 0-6 nautical mile zone. The 0-6 nautical mile zone is identified as the area most in need of protection as it has the highest level of fishing effort and exhibits the greatest variety of habitats and comparatively greater biodiversity compared to offshore areas.

The importance of the 0-6 nautical mile zone relative to the 6-12 nautical mile zone is highlighted in the table below, which shows where the majority of catches are taken from around the coast:

Area 0-6 miles 6-12 miles
South East IFG 34% 66%
Moray Firth IFG 100% 0%
North West IFG 100% 0%
Small Isles & Mull IFG 93% 7%
Clyde IFG 99% 1%
Outer Hebrides IFG 100% 0%
North Coast non- IFG 43% 57%
East Coast non- IFG 10% 90%
Orkney non- IFG 14% 86%
All Areas 81% 19%

The Poseidon report identifies the following benefits from an overnight restriction:

  • Help to limit effort in the inshore zone
  • Restricting activity at night may help reduce gear conflict
  • Improved safety & working hours for crews
  • Aid enforcement - landings occur within specified times

Overnight curfews are already in force in Shetland and other parts of the British Isles, the principle is well understood and enforcement is relatively simple. The details may vary seasonally and some flexibility could be agreed in the case of tide-limited harbours.

Days at Sea Restriction

An alternative to an overnight restriction could be the creation of a days at sea regime for the Scottish scallop fleet. This could help to achieve the aim of capping the effort of vessels in the fishery.

A days at sea regime could bring the following benefits:

  • A days at sea regime is widely understood within the industry
  • It is more flexible than an overnight curfew
  • The number of days allocated to vessels can be amended as conditions dictate


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