Conclusion and Next Steps
Introducing or increasing a minimum landing size can prevent the landing of juvenile shellfish and allow a greater number the opportunity to reproduce before being harvested. Prohibiting the landing of berried (egg-bearing) shellfish can temporarily protect reproductive females. Over the long term, these measures can potentially decrease fishing mortality and increase long term yield and biomass.
Excerpts from individual responses to the consultation highlight the desire among the majority of respondents toward improving the management of Orkney's shellfish fisheries by implementing these measures:
- " OFA members are unanimous in their wish to see these minimum landing sizes implemented. Our members' current practice is to land at those sizes in preference to keeping aboard smaller or berried animals so for them this would be a welcome legal consolidation of the quality stock management practices they already habitually employ voluntarily." (Orkney Fisheries Association)
- "With the increased fishing on… velvet crab the MLS size is very welcome, as the largest vessels are targeting this species all year round in the inshore sector." (Local fisherman)
- "Leaving smaller lobsters on the grounds will increase stock biomass and result in higher economic returns for fishermen in future years." (Western Isles Fishermen's Association)
- "I support the MLS of green crab because in the past certain vessels have prosecuted this fishery down to size 30 mm, which has destroyed certain fishing areas." (Local fisherman)
- "A ban on landing of berried females [velvets] is likely to be the single most effective measure for protection of egg production in the velvet crab stock. Given the inshore nature of the fishery, the prohibition is likely to be very effective in its coverage of the overall stock." (Fisheries scientist)
Following the conclusion of the consultation, the Scottish Government will now proceed to legislate on these measures, with the following caveats:
- A number of respondents, including the Orkney Fisheries Association, argued that the MLS for lobster should either be increased to 90 mm immediately or over a shorter timescale (e.g. one year instead of three years). Following discussion with industry, Marine Scotland has agreed an immediate increase to 88 mm, and then to 90 mm one year later.
- At this point Marine Scotland will not introduce a restriction on the carriage of non-compliant shellfish. However, this option will be kept under review and Marine Scotland will explore its implementation in the future if deemed necessary.
Marine Scotland expects these management measures to come into force from early 2016.
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