Proposal 2 - West Coast RIFG - Mull Crabbing Box
A brief summary of the proposal. Please see the proposal form for more details ( http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0052/00525813.pdf )
Who has put forward the proposal
West Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group - Mull Project Work Group (Management Group).
The area to which the proposal would apply
Figure 9: Location of proposed Mull crabbing box pilot area.
Figure 10: Co-ordinates of proposed Mull crabbing box pilot area.
|Degrees Decimal Minutes ( WGS84)||Decimal degrees ( WGS84)||XY ( OSGB)|
|NE corner||56 37.46N
|NW corner||56 35.62N
|SE corner||56 28.68N
|SW corner||56 28.85N
What changes would be brought into effect
The aim of this proposal is to trial the seasonal separation of mobile and static gear, along with a limit on static gear effort.
The area identified is a locally-important brown crab fishery ground, especially during the winter season (1 October to 31 January). The proposers wish to prohibit mobile fishing and limit creel effort during this period in order to protect the fishery, those dependent on it and maximise economic return.
The management measures we seek views on are:
- No mobile gear activity between 1 October and 31 January each year.
- Limiting creel numbers to a maximum of 300 per vessel in the area.
Changes from original proposal
The original submitted proposal contained an additional management measure that has not been included in this consultation document. This related to a restriction on the number of vessels permitted to target the fishery by creel. This has been removed on the basis that it did not provide any details as to how entry would be restricted (over what timeframe, what level of activity), and difficulty in verifying which vessels have been active in the area in the past.
The expected benefits
The proposal identifies a local, seasonally-important brown crab fishing area and seeks to manage the area when it is most important to those fishermen who target it.
The proposers believe that the above measures would:
- Offer protection to the local economy. The proposers state that this seasonal brown crab fishery is a vital income source for a small number of locally-based vessels.
- Offer protection to the brown crab stock. Those dependent on the fishery fear that mobile fishing activity currently carried out during the winter period is harming the brown crab fishery - even though mobile vessels are not targeting brown crab.
- Reduce gear conflict. The proposers believe that gear conflict has been increasing due to growing mobile gear activity during the winter period, which in coming years could impact on the viability of the local creel vessels.
- The proposed restrictions would help to sustainably manage and conserve the species by preventing gear saturation.
- Improve health & safety.
- Inform inshore fisheries management.
- Improve understanding of the brown crab stock. The proposers advocate a crab tagging scheme to get a greater understanding of the stock dynamic.
How changes will be monitored
The West Coast RIFG Working Group, which developed the proposal, would oversee the pilot. The group would meet under the chairmanship of the West Coast RIFG to review progress, monitoring and assessment. They would also wish for Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the local authority to be represented on the group.
Detailed records of crab catches by the static gear fishermen involved in the pilot will be required as a means of monitoring. The proposal offers the opportunity to capture information in relation to the crabs such as size, sex, numbers etc.
The proposer states that the assessment of data acquired from the crabbing area will help to inform current and future management of the site, as well as indicating if the fishing effort imposed during the pilot is indeed sustainable.
Crab tagging to determine where the crabs migrate to when they move from the zone during summer will also be undertaken.
Marine Scotland Estimation of Fishing Activity in the Area
As seen in Figure 9, the proposed Mull crabbing zone covers two ICES statistical rectangles - 41E3 and 42E3 - with the majority of the zone lying inside 42E3.
Analysis of VMS data linked to landings from logbooks suggest that fishing for scallops by dredge also takes place in the area. The proposal would therefore have the greatest impact on those vessels that have fished for scallops by dredge, who would be prohibited from doing so between 1 October and 31 January during the period of the pilot.
Based on these data, seven vessels have recorded voyages with mechanical dredges which indicate fishing activity in the zone during the proposed prohibition period from 2011-16. Please note, that only vessels larger than 12 metres in length are required to have VMS systems on-board in Scottish waters.
Figure 11: Estimated tonnage and value of scallops caught in proposed Mull area, 2011-16.
As can be seen, landings from the proposed area fluctuate throughout the period, generally declining from 2011-15 but with marked increases in 2014 and then again in 2016.
To give an indication of the relative importance of catches from the area by those seven vessels, the graph below shows the tonnage landed by these vessels within and out with the area. Please note that landings are from the period 1 October to 31 January.
Figure 12: Estimated tonnage of scallops landed from proposed area and scallops landed elsewhere from vessels, 2011-16.
Estimated value of brown crab caught by creel
Estimating the importance of the proposed area to creel vessels is more challenging given that fewer vessels of this type are obliged to carry on-board Vessel Monitoring Systems.
In this case, the proposed area is a relatively small area of ground that covers two ICES rectangles (see Figure 9). In the analysis below, we give a summary of landings associated with the relevant ICES rectangles during the period 1 October to 31 January between 2011 and 2016.
Brown crab is the primary creel fishery in 41E3 and 42E3, with landings far outstripping those of lobster and velvet crab in both tonnage and value.
Figure 13: Tonnage of brown crabs, lobsters and velvet crabs landed by creel vessels from 41E3 and 42E3, 2011-16.
Figure 14: Value of brown crabs, lobsters and velvet crabs landed by creel vessels from 41E3 and 42E3, 2011-16.
Brown crab landings from 41E3 and 42E3 during the proposed closed period of October to January make up a significant proportion of total landings each year, ranging from 37% to 50% during 2011-16.
Figure 15: Comparison of tonnage of brown crabs landed from 41E3 and 42E3 between October-January and February-September, 2011-16.
3. Do you agree that the pilot proposal for the Mull Crabbing Box should be taken forward by Marine Scotland as described?
4. What is your view on the possible impact, both positive and negative, of the introduction of a seasonal restriction on mobile gear activity in the area for the duration of the pilot?
5. What is your view on the possible impact, both positive and negative, of whether a seasonal restriction on the number of creels in the relevant area should be put in place for the duration of the pilot?