Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot: year one report

The OHIFP is a stakeholder-led project developed collaboratively by the fishing industry, the scientific community and Scottish Government to test approaches to fisheries management within a significant area of sea to the east of the Outer Hebrides. This report summaries the first years findings.

7. Conclusions

  • The Pilot represents an ambitious stakeholder-led project, that has been developed and implemented collaboratively by the fishing industry, the scientific community and the Scottish Government. The Pilot is yielding valuable learning about approaches to effort management and the use of Tracking Solutions to improve our knowledge of a fishery.
  • Marine Scotland will continue to work with OHRIFG to support the Pilot, including discussion with fishers on how to ensure continued buy-in and compliance. This will consider the efficiency of using a licence derogation, the efficacy of restricting fishing effort, and possible knock-on effects for neighbouring fishing grounds.
  • Marine Scotland will continue to use the outputs of the Pilot to improve the information we hold about shellfish stocks around the Outer Hebrides to inform policy development.
  • Analysis of the available data from 2017 – 2020 (data for 2021 is provisional and incomplete) highlighted a number of insufficiencies in the data collected. We are using this information to improve the quality of the data. This includes working with fishers to promote best practice, developing online submission of catch returns and promoting use of the Catching App.
  • During 2021 some fishers reported better quality catches in the Pilot area, however the reasons for these observations are not understood at present. For example, fishers may be catching larger animals, but that may not necessarily mean abundance within the Pilot area has improved.
  • Analysis of best available data corroborates stakeholder observations of diminishing LPUE. We are continuing to analyse the data we collect to further assess this. It should be noted that, while analysis shows diminishing LPUE year on year, that data does not make a clear distinction between inside and outwith the Pilot Area. Further work is required to assess LPUE within the Pilot area.
  • Marine Scotland recognise the need to consider how best to account for the use of different types of creel being deployed when approaching the management of fishing effort.
  • Though there a benefits to limiting creel numbers, there are also well understood challenges with such an approach. We will consider the merits of an input based approach to management that licensing and creel limits provides, alongside whether utilising an output system such as quota might be of value to Scottish shellfish fisheries (as signposted in our FFM Strategy).
  • The delineations in area between the ground worked by vessels of different sizes represent opportunities to evolve the Pilot, taking into account relative fishing pressure on different shellfish species.
  • Trialling of the Tracking Solution has highlighted the granularity of data this type of system can provide but also the challenges posed by logistics, communications, data management; and the level of user input required to attain optimum outputs.
  • Trailing of the Tracking Solution will be continued, improving our evidence base and informing our commitments towards implementation of vessel monitoring and tracking.
  • Overall, the pilot has established an important platform for the co-development of a management strategy which will inevitably evolve as we learn collectively from this experience. The continued co-operation and collaboration of the OHRIFG in this project is commendable



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