Management Of The Scottish Inshore Fisheries; Assessing The Options For Change

An analysis of the impacts from different options for the management of the Scottish Inshore fisheries. In particular, the report provides an appraisal of scenarios related to restrictions on the use of mobile fishing gears within one and three nautical m


23.1 Introduction

The real world is complex and even the 36 different combinations for each restriction cannot cover every eventuality. In this section we address three further issues:

  • Including Mobile Pelagic Gear in the Restrictions.
  • IFGs Imposing Local Mobile Gear Restrictions.
  • Additional Creel Licences.

23.2 . Including Mobile Pelagic Gear in the Restrictions

Pelagic species shoal in very large quantities. Mackerel shoals over 10 miles in length are not uncommon. Shoals are located, followed, surrounded by the net and in the large modern vessels then "sucked" on board the vessel as the net is hauled. Landing is through pipe straight into the processing factory. The newer pelagic trawler is highly automated, technologically advanced, very expensive and capable of taking 1m tonnes of fish in a single tow.

Crucially, the trawls themselves have no direct impact on the sea bed and by-catch of demersal species or other species is not an issue. Since they do not have the destructive qualities of nephrop trawls and scallop dredges, the analysis has assumed that the restrictions do not apply to pelagic trawls. The case for including pelagic trawls now needs to be considered.

The vast majority of Scottish pelagic trawling occurs outside the 3 NM limit. The VMS data suggested £4 m occurred within 0-6 NM of the coast within the East Coast IFG area in 2011. MS compliance staff believe that these landings were not actually caught within 6 NM and that there is another explanation. It could be an (unlikely) VMS anomaly, a data entry problem somewhere in the system, or a contrived outcome associated with quota restrictions.

The only area with substantial volumes caught inshore appears to be Shetland where the VMS data suggested a number of very large inshore catches totalling over £9m in value although in other years large shoals can be caught inshore in the Western Isles.. With respect to Shetland, it was estimated that mobile demersal gear restrictions gear delivered small or negative change in jobs or NEV. The inclusion of pelagic trawls will mean that restrictions on all mobile gear would decrease employment and reduce NEV.

If Shetland is excluded, the total inshore pelagic trawling catch is put at £400,000 generating a profit of just over £100,000. This profit sum would represent the maximum annual loss of Scottish NEV if pelagic trawling was also was restricted. Most of this is associated with the West Coast Herring fishery which is extremely variable in both volume and location. Many years only a fraction ( as low at 25%) of the quota is caught.

In practice, the loss to operators would be considerably lower than £400,000 because there are a number offsetting effects. If pelagic mobile effort is precluded within 3 NM, there are good substitution possibilities outside 3 NM, simply because the targeted fish are not permanently resident within 3 NM. Indeed, the trawlers were probably inside 3 NM because they have followed a shoal.

Unless fish are simply not in the area, there is little prospect that pelagic profits (i.e. NEV) would fall by £100,000. The value of their landings will probably remain constant but, if they have to steam further, the impact of the restriction will be manifest in some increase in their operating costs. Given that, excluding Shetland, most pelagic species are to be found outside 3 NM a relatively modest increase in steaming costs could be expected.

No matter how modest they are, needless cost increases should obviously be avoided. However, if pelagic trawlers are excluded from fishing within 3 NM there are some counterbalancing economic benefits. Despite very limited vessel numbers (21), the gear conflict survey still generated 10 conflict incidents with pelagic trawlers. Of these, 20% were seen as deliberate. The single pelagic respondent put the conflict value at £15,000 but, assuming the lower mean value per conflict of £6,923, the annual benefit of avoiding conflict is £69,230. From society's perspective, the least cost option for realising these benefits is to re-direct pelagic mobile effort. This is because vessels targeting shellfish are exploiting a permanently resident stock. Unlike pelagic vessels, they do not have good substitution possibilities.

There is a second benefit which is associated with RSA. Although mackerel is not a particularly prized species amongst keen sea anglers, they provide entry level anglers, family groups, youngsters and occasional anglers with a rewarding catch. Over the summer months, a shoal of mackerel in a large sea loch system can potentially improve the quality of the sea angling or the holiday breaks for large numbers of individuals. Mackerel worth £400,000 and taken by trawls within 3 NM probably represent a shoal of around 400,000 fish which are no longer available to local sea anglers. If only 10% of these fish were caught recreationally it is not unreasonable to suggest that each would add on average a £1 to the value of the recreational experience. Improved catches might encourage more return visits to coastal locations and increased visitor spending.

Overall, excluding Shetland, pelagic trawling inside 3 NM contributes very little to Scotland's NEV and probably nothing to employment. If pelagic trawling was restricted within 3 NM there might be a modest increase in trawler operating costs. On the positive side, gear conflict would be reduced and the quality of RSA would increase with knock on effects on coastal income and employment.

In conclusion, if increased employment opportunities and enhancement of Scotland's NEV are desirable outcomes, there is a case for also restricting pelagic trawls from inshore areas.

23.3 Implications of Individual IFG's Restricting Mobile Gear

Thus far the analysis undertaken is of the impact of national restrictions on Scotland and on each IFG. The study has not explicitly addressed local impact of an individual IFG unilaterally imposing a mobile gear restriction. Whilst the local impact of a local measure is different from the local impact of a national policy, the differences might be relatively minor. We consider this issue below

With a nationwide restriction a trawler will either simply fish outside the restricted area or in some way cease fishing. Fishing outside 1 or 3 NM across all IFGs will continue as before.

If individual IFGs impose limits on mobile gears it seems possible that those who prefer to work in sheltered inland waters may move some effort to adjacent inland waters whilst continuing to work from their home port. For example, most of those fishing in the Sound of Mull might simply swap sides if the North West or South West IFG introduces a mobile restriction. Possibly of more significance would be transfer of operations on a weekly or longer basis to another IFG. For example boats based in the South West could transfer their effort to the Outer Hebrides, tying up, when necessary, in Castlebay or Stornoway but returning home to Oban or Luing. Thus a key question is how many would transfer. If this is likely to be widespread then individual IFG bans might be less attractive.

On the other hand, if one IFG imposes a restriction and enhances the local quality of its RSA and RD, then the area not only retains more of its anglers and divers it will attract a bigger proportion of anglers and divers from other areas. As we have seen, the key variable driving recreational values is population size.

Whether an IFG would be better off with its own unilateral restriction or as part of a nationwide restriction depends on the balance of the negative aspects of increased effort transfer and the positive aspects of increased marine recreation. IFG areas with large local populations and small numbers of mobile operators would probably be even better off with a unilateral restriction. In contrast, remote IFG areas with small local populations, large numbers of mobile operators and neighbouring IFG's offering good substitution possibilities might be better off with a nationwide restriction. We consider these issues below

23.3.1 Transfer of fishing effort between IFG's.

The first approach taken here is to assess the numbers currently fishing close to the boundary. The logic is that trawlers are unlikely to travel significant distances on a daily basis to fish in waters close to the shore in another IFG when a major penalty of a ban is the additional cost of fuel.

The first assessment is to identify the number of vessels in registered in ports close to the boundaries. The Table below gives details

Table 23.3.1 Transfer of Effort: IFG Border Ports

South West Oban 21 45 66 21.3%
North West Fort William 1 6 7 3.1%
South West / North West Border 22 51 73 13.7%
North West / MF& NC Border No Ports Close
MF& NC Scrabster 2 50 52 28.4%
Orkney Stromness 4 1 5 3.1%
MF& NC –Orkney Border 6 51 57 16.6%
MF& NC Rosehearty 0 6 6 3.3%
East Coast Fraserburgh 75 75 150 34.6%
MF& NC Orkney 75 81 156 25.3%

In some ways this is misleading. Many vessels, particularly creelers but also including mobile operators, often operate out of what are termed Creeks. The table below gives a list of such Creeks.

Table 23.3.2 Transfer of Effort: IFG Creeks

South West North West North&Moray East
Ardrishaig Achiltibuie Avoch Aberdeen
Arran Ardnamurchan Brora Anstruther
Ayr Arisaig Buckie Arbroath
Ballantrae Aultbea Burghead Boddam
Bruichladdich Bracadale Culkein& Drumbeg Burnmouth
Bute Broadford Dunbeath Burntisland
Campbeltown Corpach Eriboll Cove
Carradale Dunvegan Gardenstown Crail
Coll Fort William Helmsdale Dunbar
Colonsay Gairloch Hopeman Eyemouth
Crinan Glenuig Invergordon Fraserburgh
Drummore Kinlochbervie Inverness Gourdon
Dunure Kyle John O'Groats Granton
Gigha Kylesku Keiss Johnshaven
Girvan Lochinver Lossiemouth Methil & Leven
Islay Mallaig Lybster Montrose
Jura Portree Macduff North Berwick
Kirkcudbright Salen Pennan Peterhead
Largs & Greenock Scalpay Portknockie Pittenweem
Loch Buie (Mull) Scourie Portmahomack Port Errol
Loch Scridain (Mull) Sleat Portskerra Port Seton
Luing Snizort Portsoy St Abbs
Maidens Strathaird Rosehearty St Andrews
Oban Torridon Sandhaven & Pitullie St Monans
Port Askaig Ullapool Scrabster Stonehaven
Port Ellen Outer Hebrides Whitehills Shetland
Portpatrick Barra Wick Central Mainland
Stranraer Benbecula Orkney Lerwick
Tarbert Bernera (Lewis) Hoy Northmavine
Tayinloan Berneray (N Uist) Kirkwall S Mainland & Fair Isle
Tayvallich Grimsay Rousay Scalloway
Tiree Lochs S Ronaldsay Skerries
Tobermory (Mull) North Harris Sanday Tingwall
Troon & Saltcoats North Uist Stromness West Mainland
West Loch Tarbert Portnaguran & Ness Stronsay Whalsay
Whithorn South Harris Westray Yell, Fetlar & Unst
South Uist & Eriskay

The creeks close to the border are coloured. Around Cape Wrath the nearest creeks are Kinlochbervie and Loch Erribol, both over 20 Km from Cape Wrath. It seems unlikely that there would be any transfer. There are creeks in southern Orkney and creeks on the other side of the Pentland Firth. There may well be transfer across that border. Boats from the sizeable Oban fleet are also likely to cross the border as are boats from Fraserburgh and Rosehearty/Sandhaven.

To obtain some idea of the potential size of the transfer current catches close to the boundary have been examined. Wherever there is a boundary in the 3 NM zones, the catch value within 3 NM of that boundary is assessed. This was achieved by creating buffers along the boundaries. In the case of VMS data the vessels and catch in those buffer zones was assessed as discussed in Section 6.2.2. In the case of the ScotMap data the procedures discussed in Section 6.2.3 were used to identify catch value in the buffer zones. The figure below illustrates the border between the South West and North West IFGs with the "Pings" representing fishing by dredgers.

Fig 23.3: The Sound of Mull, IFG border and dredger VMS pings

Fig 23.3: The Sound of Mull, IFG border and dredger VMS pings

The tables below show the value of the catch in these buffer zones by: vessels >15m ( VMS); vessels 15m and under (ScotMap); total value as a percentage of the catch in the IFG.

Table 23.3.3 Value of Catch in IFG Border Areas >15m

Border Side Demersal Nephrops King Scallops
South West / North West North West £86 £18,311 £140,071
South West £230 £42,062 £235,121
North West / MF& NC MF& NC £1,043 £4,736 £21,764
North West £240 £0 £17,913
MF& NC / Orkney MF& NC £5,671 £771 £39,504
Orkney £0 £0 £7,912
MF& NC / East Coast MF& NC £10,732 £12,110 £1,778
East Coast £12,709 £6,005 £1,387

Table 23.3.4 Value of Catch in IFG Border Areas 15m and under

Border Side Demersal Nephrops King Scallops
South West / North West North West £0 £21,621 £2,819
South West £0 £21,537 £3,808
North West / MF& NC MF& NC No areas identified for 15m and under
North West
MF& NC / Orkney MF& NC £0 £0 £3,596
Orkney £316 £0 £2,243
MF& NC / East Coast MF& NC £5,050 £2,548 £0
East Coast £4,006 £2,216 £0

Table 23.3.5 Total IFG Border Catch and % of Border catch in IFG

Border Side D'rsal % Nephrops % King Scallops %
South West / North West North West £86 0.0% £18,311 0.5% £140,071 20.7%
South West £230 0.7% £42,062 0.5% £235,121 7.2%
North West / MF& NC MF& NC £1,043 0.1% £4,736 0.2% £21,764 4.2%
North West £240 0.0% £0 0.0% £17,913 2.7%
MF& NC / Orkney MF& NC £5,987 0.7% £771 0.0% £39,504 7.6%
Orkney £5,050 12.0% £0 0.0% £7,912 3.7%
MF& NC / East Coast MF& NC £14,738 1.7% £0 0.0% £1,778 0.3%
East Coast £12,709 1.5% £0 0.0% £1,387 0.7%

These tables suggest that the transfer across boundaries if a ban was introduced by a single IFG would in most cases have an extremely limited effect.

In general, the daily movement of commercial fishing effort across IFG boundaries because of a 1 or 3 NM ban on trawling and dredging will probably be very limited. It will normally not be sensible for a Nephrops trawler to travel far enough to fish within 1 or 3 NM from the shore in a neighbouring IFG. The major exception would be if the neighbouring area had a relatively unexploited hot spot.

Potentially, the 1 or 3 NM restriction could have a bigger impact on scallop dredgers. They are generally more mobile because the ground they exploit needs time to recover before being dredged again. This greater mobility across IFG boundaries might mean they would spend less time in their home IFG were the home IFG to introduce a 1 NM or a 3 NM restriction. The problem would be especially acute in what appear to be very rich scallop beds in the Sound of Mull which is split between the South West and North West IFGs. Difficulties in policing would make the enforcement of different policies problematic.

On the basis of the expected benefits to society it would appear that the most likely areas to introduce restrictions on mobile gear would be the South West and the East. It is difficult to know the numbers that might undertake a weekly commute to a neighbouring IFG which does not have a restriction on mobile gear. The most likely would appear to be along the West Coast however it seems unlikely that small boats based in the Clyde would choose to round the Mull of Kintyre on a regular basis to fish more sheltered waters. For these boats a permanent transfer seems more likely.

Even for west Kintyre based boats regularly crossing the Minch to reach sheltered waters seems unlikely. Movements north towards Mallaig and Ullapool might occur but overall giving up or transferring to fixed gear would seem more likely. As a consequence we assume that the impact on commercial fishing in unrestricted areas (and the fish stocks in those areas) will be small.

23.3.2 Impact of Individual IFGs Restrictions on Recreational Activities

Changing IFGs by sea anglers and sub-aqua enthusiasts would be normal if the activity was better elsewhere. The marginal travel time and monetary costs of someone in the central belt switching IFGs could be quite small and relatively small improvements in the quality of sea angling and diving could be sufficient to induce a change in location. Our hypothesis is that if an IFG area is subject to a 1 or 3 NM restriction this will improve the quality of the recreational experiences for these activities and hence this IFG and the area will see movement to it at the expense of IFG area who have no restrictions. A major problem is that the flow will be dependent not only upon whether the IFG in question but which other IFG areas also have a restriction. For example the transfer into a protected East IFG could be significantly determined by the presence or absence of a ban in the South West. There are some 64 combinations to be modelled for the effect of a ban in each IFG. [63]

In transport economics the flow of people or goods between areas is normally modelled by a gravity model F ij =aO i α O j β exp δdij where F ij where F ij is the flow from area i to area j, O i are factors that determine flow from i to j, O j the factors determining the flow from j to i, d ij is the distance or time between i and j ,and a, α, β α and δ are constants to be determined. Exp is the exponential operator.

In an analogous way we can model the numbers moving for one IFG by letting F ij be the recreational activity leaving i for j, O i the population that would be available to transfer and O j the miles of protected coastline to transfer to. As an example the additional value of activity that would flow into the South West (a physically very large area) from the East (with a large population) over a relatively short distance would be substantially higher than any additional value from Shetland to the North West. The problem is that we have no data to estimate the critical constants.

One possibility is to make assumptions about a limited number of key flows and use these to obtain some realistic parameter values. These can then be used to look at some key combinations such as both the South West IFG and the East IFG instituting bans and no others.

From the results we know that the most important variable is the population of the IFG and the IFGs have widely different population levels. The South West population is 44.6% of the total Scottish population (see Section 20.3), whilst the East is 47.4%. A nationwide restriction generates very high employment levels and very high NEV values. This is because the large recreational sector generates high positive values which are a different order of magnitude than the negative impacts on commercial fishing. A unilateral restriction could reduce employment and NEV estimates, but this would require a massive adverse impact on the commercial sector and a small percentage positive impact on the recreational sector. This is unlikely and even if it did, there is no prospect whatsoever of a unilateral restriction delivering negative values for employment or NEV. With respect to the South West IFG and the East Coast IFG there is nothing to be gained by estimating gravity models. Based on the results the same argument could be applied to the Moray Firth and North Coast IFG, though the NEV value for the 0-1 NM restriction is more marginal. The position is more finely balanced for the North West. In this area the marine recreation sector is smaller but has potential. Some scenarios generate quite high FTEs, though NEV values are balanced between positive and negative values. Given the above analysis of commercial fishing substitutions, it is difficult to generalise about whether a unilateral restriction would increase or decrease estimated FTE and NPV values. The case for 0-3 NM mobile restrictions is stronger for the Outer Hebrides on employment grounds, but there are insufficient grounds for generalisation about the impact of unilateral restrictions. Orkney's marine recreation, primarily RD has an enviable reputation and the nationwide restriction delivers high estimates for employment. The unilateral restriction would most probably deliver even more employment. Given these considerations, only the North West would require the development of gravity models.

23.4 Additional Licences for Creeling

A restricted licensing system might constrain delivery of all the potential benefits from restricting mobile effort in inshore areas. The extent to which creelers can expand into the notional territory vacated by mobile operators depends on their ability to obtain the relevant licence with shellfish entitlement.

One important part of the model is that creeler numbers are limited by the availability of licences, not by the fishing resource or potential fishermen. The model assumes that there will be some loss of licences for the more powerful trawlers but some gain not only by transfer between trawlers and creelers but also more efficient utilisation of the existing licence stock, such as those attached to vessels fishing part-time.

The availability of licenses is effectively constraining the expansion of creeling and the creation of jobs in that segment. We examined the consequences of making more licences available. This was done by modifying the model introducing an assumption that the number of new creelers will be 150% of the number of trawlers leaving the sector. Although this will lead to a slight positive demand for fishermen the processing sector will be adversely affected and the numbers overall in the fishery sector will still decline. The overall result is a relatively small increase in welfare and a much more substantial increase in employment in the industry. Since there is little prospect of more licences becoming available we do not report the results


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