Creel fishing: effort study

Report to assess the environmental sustainability of fish stocks and the socioeconomic efficiency of fishing activity.

6. Stakeholder Workshop

Two one-hour stakeholder workshops were undertaken at the annual Scottish Inshore Fisheries Conference in Inverness on the 27-28 th April. The workshop set out to discuss the management needs and option for crab and lobster on both the west and east coast [6] . The workshop was made up of participants from a range of backgrounds including active fishers, fisheries and seafood industry representatives, non-government organisations, and government officials. The workshop consisted of a 20 minute presentation on the crab and lobster analysis described in section 3 of this report, followed by round-table discussions and group feedback on four pre-selected topics: 1) suitable legislation to support crab and lobster fisheries management; 2) implementing appropriate management in crab and lobster fisheries: 3) integrating inshore creel fishing with wider marine spatial management, and; 4) responding to changing demands and opportunities. Each group in both sessions were asked to identify the issues for this area, outline the key challenges for the identified issues and then potential solutions for addressing these issues. The following is a summary from the eight discussions.

6.1 Topic: Suitable Legislation to Support Inshore Crab/Lobster Management

Both groups held general discussions on what the issues with current legislation were (including a view that there were no issues). There was a general consensus that:

1) Current legislation is not responsive to the needs of fishers;

2) It takes a long time to introduce new management measures;

3) There are insufficient punishments for wrong doers - particularly unlicensed/hobby fishers who sell their catches.

Key challenges highlighted were:

  • How the science community and fishers work together - some felt fishers need proper representation;
  • Taking into consideration the socioeconomics needs of crab and lobster fishing;
  • Generating high quality data, there needs to be robust evidence to support management;
  • Implementing management controls over a period of time that fishers can adapt to whilst maintaining their livelihoods;
  • Understanding what is the appropriate scale for crab and lobster fisheries management, many issues of a local nature;
  • Too many people involved in the industry are only interested in a quick gain; and
  • Not enough enforcement.

Some potential solutions proposed by the groups were:

  • More responsive management;
  • Joint management between scientists and fishers;
  • Permit powers could provide a solution but need to be wary of patchwork management - some aspects of regulating orders would be appropriate (permits);
  • Greater enforcement and greater punishment dispensed.

6.2 Topic: Implementing Appropriate Management for Crab/Lobster Fisheries

Two issues were discussed by the two groups:

1) Balancing livelihoods - for example how to balance creel limits with full-time, part-time and unlicensed fishermen and;

2) The inappropriateness of quotas in crab and lobster fisheries.

The key challenges with these issue were:

  • Quotas - work against fishing communities and providing an extra hurdle to people entering the sector. Need to avoiding measures that prevent/hinder new entrants;
  • Accounting for regional differences (e.g. national vs. local creel limits - nationwide creel limit unlikely to be appropriate for all areas);
  • Avoiding unexpected consequences, e.g. creel limits that lead to increased effort such as switching from prawn creels to parlours, or encourages fishers to purchase up to the maximum allowed;
  • High quality historical/current fishing data in order to inform and monitor management decisions;
  • Resources to effectively enforce management and prevent loopholes (e.g. scrubbing berried lobster);
  • 'Toothless' management measures that can be ignored (e.g. voluntary v-notching schemes for undersized/berried lobster);
  • Current legislation constraining management decisions or being expensive/prohibitive to implement (e.g. Regulating Orders).

Potential solutions put forward were:

  • Learn from management measures introduced elsewhere, e.g. Canada, Norway - don't need to reinvent the wheel;
  • Management decisions at a local level. More responsive than decisions taken centrally, and locals have better knowledge of the fishery(ies) and how to implement appropriate solutions;
  • Implement technical measures alongside creel limits to mitigate effort increase (e.g. mandatory escape panels).

6.3 Topic: Integrating Inshore Fishing and Wider Marine Spatial Management

Two topics were discussed by the two groups:

1) Displacement of small boats from traditional fishing grounds;

2) Inshore fishing grounds being increasingly shared with other marine users.

The key challenges with these issue were:

  • Long running issues between different fishing sectors, who have been operating in the same place, are being accentuated with other marine users claiming sea space;
  • Lack of involvement in the marine spatial management and the planning process;
  • Increasing pressure from the environmental lobby;
  • Fishing sector is underfunded for dealing with marine spatial planning;
  • Out of date maps of marine use e.g. ScotMap now out of date;
  • Increase in aquaculture and sea bed cables in inshore waters.

Potential solutions put forward were:

  • Improved management, better guidance and more funding;
  • The burden of proof should sit with the developer, who should also meet the costs;
  • An enhanced role for Inshore Fisheries Groups ( IFGs), e.g. similar to that of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority ( IFCAs) in England;
  • Better, more inclusive and continuous consultation process;
  • Mechanisms for all fishers to have their say in wider marine management including sea bed cables and aquaculture installations and proposals;
  • The possible use of Regulating Orders or other management mechanisms.

6.4 Topic: Changing Consumer Demands and Market Opportunities

Six issues were discussed during the two sessions:

1) Impact of MSC certifications - now considered by many as the Holy Grail, but not well suited to inshore fisheries, yet responsible fishers are harmed if not certified;

2) Crab and lobster creels catch multi-species (e.g. whitefish) but no entitlements to land other species;

3) Inshore fisheries now operate out to 12 nm but current regional Inshore Fisheries Group ( rIFG) boundaries set at 6 nm;

4) Lack of domestic markets for Scottish products;

5) Producing and selling Scottish products in a way that suits UK consumers;

6) Securing viable prices in the UK market that compete with prices secured for products in overseas markets.

The key challenges highlighted were:

  • Inshore fishing no longer reflects the sea area managed by the 1984 Inshore Fisheries Act;
  • Creel fishers do not have historical records, therefore are unable to access quota species so cannot benefit from alternative markets;
  • Markets for smaller quantities of mixed species, demand is there, but current economic model for most species is dependent on overseas export;
  • Onshore storage and handling capacity of mixed landings is lacking;
  • High volume of import for into the UK seafood market;
  • Delivery times between landing locations in Scotland/ UK and key domestic markets ( UK cities);
  • Suitable processing and selling facilities that can deal with smaller diverse volumes as well as economies of scale;
  • UK/Scottish attitudes and cultures towards consuming seafood.

Solutions proposed to tackle these issues included:

  • Community quotas of mixed species - rather than any changes to licences - to allow inshore fishers to diversify;
  • Update facilities in key local ports to allow local businesses to store and process more species and promote local markets to reduce dependence on overseas markets - Connect Local was mentions as a positive scheme;
  • Community/cooperative approaches to support and develop local markets;
  • Support to create domestic markets e.g. public sector contracts (hospitals/schools) and general awareness raising;
  • Changing primary and secondary production to better fit with UK market demand;
  • Long term planning to change UK consumers attitudes to seafood.


Email: Estelle Jones,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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