Proposal 1 - The Inner Sound of Skye
A brief summary of the proposal. Please see the proposal form for more detail ( http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0052/00525812.pdf )
Who has put forward the proposal
North West Responsible Fishing Association, Torridon and Applecross Fishermen’s Association and the Scottish Scallop Divers Association. The Scottish Creel Fisherman’s Federation ( SCFF) has also informed the proposal.
The area to which the proposal would apply
The Southern Inner Sound area, where a six month prohibition on the use of mobile gear is currently in place. As set out in The Inshore Fishing (Prohibition of Fishing and Fishing Methods) (Scotland) Order 2015 ( https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2015/435/made).
Figure 1: Location of proposed Inner Sound pilot area.
What changes will be brought into effect
The key aim of the proposed pilot is to trial the separation of mobile and static gears.
Management measure on which we are seeking views
Extend the present six month closure of the Inner Sound to mobile gear (October to April) to a full year-round closure. Under existing measures, mobile gear vessels are able to fish, subject to restrictions, between 1 April and 30 September. This proposal would see mobile gear vessels prohibited all year round for the duration of the pilot.
Changes from original proposal
The original submitted proposal contained potential management measures that have not been included by Marine Scotland in this consultation document. These measures were to be considered at a future point and included:
- Controls on the number of vessels permitted to fish.
- Controls on the number of permitted creels within the area.
- New controls on the minimum landing size of Nephrops from the area.
- Consideration of additional restrictions in adjacent areas to the proposed site.
It is envisaged that a local group, made up of fishing interests in the area, will monitor the pilot and consider these measures further.
What are the expected benefits
The overall aim is to develop a more prosperous and low-impact local fishery, reduce gear conflict and inform understanding of approaches to inshore fisheries management.
The proposers believe that the pilot will demonstrate:
- An increase in revenues generated from the fishery in this area.
- A decrease in gear conflict in the area, which they state has had a significant impact since the removal of the three mile limit in 1984.
- A potential increase in employment.
- Environmental benefits, including a decrease in benthic disturbance, by-catch and discard of non-target species.
- Potentially reduce the pressure on adjacent MPAs from creel vessels displaced annually when the area is open to the mobile sector.
How changes will be monitored
It is proposed by the originators of the proposal that oversight and ultimate responsibility for the project and evaluation of its outcomes should rest with Marine Scotland.
A local group will be established for the duration of the pilot to which will oversee the pilot and consider future management measures.
The West Coast RIFG would be kept informed of progress and be entitled to offer advice and assistance when required. Other appropriate organisations may be required to evaluate various components of the pilot, such as environmental and science related aspects.
In order to measure the effectiveness/success of the pilot, the proposers suggest that a monitoring programme could be established which would assess: the changes in revenues and employment generated; changes in conflict patterns; environmental changes on the seabed (e.g. benthic biodiversity and habitat structure); and prevalence of Nephrops, fish species, and priority marine features sensitive to benthic disturbance.
In order to monitor and assess the pilot, those vessels working both inside and outside of the pilot area may be required to log which elements of their catch derive from within and out with the pilot area.
Marine Scotland Estimation of Fishing Activity in the Area
The proposal would have the greatest impact on those 12 metre and under registered length vessels that target Nephrops, when permitted, during 1 April and 30 September each year and, to a lesser extent, vessels targeting scallops by dredge during the same period when fishing of this type is permitted.
Estimated Value of catch of Nephrops by Demersal Single Trawl
Figure 2 shows that the closed area covers two ICES statistical rectangles 43E3 and 43E4 - with the majority of the area within 43E4.
Also shown, is the indicative area of fishing activity by trawl vessels under 12 metres in length with Vessel Monitoring Systems ( VMS). It indicates that important Nephrops trawling grounds in 43E4 are located within the closed area site. It also indicates that, where voyages had VMS-indicative effort in 43E4 and landed into Kyle or Portree, 90% had fishing activity exclusively within the proposed area.
Figure 2: Nephrops trawl fishery activity by vessels with registered length of under 12 metres. Ninety five per cent volume contour of VMS at fishing speeds, April-September 2013-16.
It is important to note that not all 12 metre and under vessels have VMS fitted. For vessels without VMS we are reliant on recorded landings data as an indicator of the spatial distribution of their fishing activity. Trawl landings by under 12 metre vessels into Kyle and Portree from 43E4 are used as an estimate of the landings by these vessels from the proposed management area. Within the area of the pilot, there were no recorded landings by trawl vessels from 43E4 into other local ports (Broadford, Applecross or Carron) during the relevant period. In addition data held by Marine Scotland indicates that activity within the proposed area by vessels landing into Mallaig was very limited.
In the period 2011-16, 19 vessels with a registered length of under 12 metre recorded 720 voyages with demersal trawls in 43E4 during the months of April to September and landed into Kyle and Portree. The tonnage and value is recorded in Figure 3. The tonnage landed varies throughout the period - decreasing between 2011 and 2013 but increasing in subsequent years.
Figure 3: Estimated tonnage and value of Nephrops landed by under 12 metre trawl vessels from 43E4 into Kyle and Portree, 2011-16.
In Figure 4, we compare these landings to the total landings of the same group of 19 vessels taken outside 43E4 during the period 1 April to 30 September each year, to give an indication of the relative importance of the closed area to these vessels. For these vessels, we estimate that 12.5% of their total landings taken during the period when mobile gear fishing is permitted in the Southern Inner Sound, were taken from the Southern Inner Sound.
Figure 4: Estimated tonnage of Nephrops landed from 43E4 (into Kyle and Portree) and elsewhere by the under 12 metre trawl vessels that recorded landings from 43E4, 2011-16.
Estimated value of catch by mechanical dredge
In the period 2011-16, 39 vessels recorded 4,175 voyages by dredges with catches in 43E3 or 43E4 during the months of April to September. Ninety two per cent of these vessels are fitted with VMS. The catch was predominantly king scallops.
Based on VMS data linked to logbook data, 15 vessels conducted 58 voyages with mechanical dredges in the proposed area during the 2011-16 period. These data can be used to provide an estimate of tonnage and value of scallop landings from the area (shown in Figure 5 below).
Figure 5: Estimated tonnage and value of scallops landed by dredge from proposed Inner Sound pilot area, 2011-16.
As can be seen, the value of landings from dredge vessels fluctuates throughout the period - increasing between 2012-15 but then declining significantly in 2016.
To give an indication of the relative importance of landings from the closed area by those 15 vessels that have been active within the area in recent years, the tonnage landed within and out with the proposed area is compared for these vessels. Please note that it covers landings between 1 April and 30 September of each year.
Figure 6: Estimated tonnage of dredged scallops landed from proposed Inner Sound pilot area and scallops landed elsewhere from vessels that recorded landings from proposed pilot area, 2011-16.
Estimated value of Nephrops caught by creel
To estimate the value of creel landings from the relevant area, all landings recorded as being made from 43E4 and landed into harbours within the closed area (Applecross, Broadford, Carron, Kyle) have been included, as have landings recorded into Portree from 43E4 (as above with demersal trawls).
In the period 2011-16, 59 vessels recorded landings of Nephrops by creel in 43E4 during the months of April to September. The tonnage and value are recorded Figure 7 and shows that tonnage and value have increased from 2014
Figure 7: Estimated tonnage and value of Nephrops landed by creel from 43E4 into relevant ports, 2011-16.
Estimated value of scallops caught by hand-fishing
As with creel fishing, landings recorded as being made from 43E4 and landed into harbours within the closed area (Applecross, Broadford, Carron, Kyle), as well as landings from 43E4 into Portree, have been included to estimate the value of the fishery from the associated area.
Figure 8: Estimated tonnage and value of Scallops landed by hand diving from 43E4 into relevant ports, 2011-16.
Nine vessels recorded landings of dived scallops from 43E4 during the period 2011-16 during the period when mobile fishing is permitted between April to October. Figure 8 shows how the tonnage and value of hand-dived scallops fluctuates throughout the period.
1. Do you agree that the pilot proposal for the Inner Sound of Skye should be taken forward by Marine Scotland as described?
2. What is your view on the possible impact, both positive and negative, of amending the current six month restriction so that all mobile gear fishing is prohibited throughout the duration of the pilot?