Phase 2 MPA measures and PMF review minutes: Inverness - 17 January 2022

Minutes of the pre-consultation engagement with fisheries stakeholders on inshore management measures for Priority Marine Features (PMFs) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Inverness on 17 January 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Marine Scotland
  • NatureScot
  • Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF)
  • Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA)
  • Mallaig and North West Fishermen’s Association
  • North and East Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group Chair and members
  • Fisheries Representatives from the East and North Coast
  • Orkney Fisheries Association (OFA)
  • Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance

Items and actions

Meeting agenda

  • welcome and introductions
  • update on recent Scottish Government commitments on Marine Protected Areas
  • outline of the process to develop MPA and PMF fisheries management measures so far
  • discussion on proposed MPA fisheries management measures
  • discussion on proposed PMF fisheries management measures
  • conclusions and next steps

Welcome and introductions

Marine Scotland welcomed everyone to the meeting to discuss the proposed inshore management measures for Priority Marine Features (PMFs) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the East coast. This meeting was intended to be held in Inverness in person, but due to the new variant of coronavirus (COVID-19) had to be rearranged to be online and after the festive break.

Several comments were made after the introductions by two industry representatives prior to the commencement of the agenda items, including a statement on the points below.

Comments raised included concern regarding the stakeholder process across multiple Scottish Government projects. It was highlighted that there is concern of a large and growing disconnect between the Conservation Team, Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government in general and serious concerns of the stakeholder process and that the Scottish Government is unclear of its aims. In addition the representatives of the fishing industry and finding it increasingly difficult to bring back information to their stakeholders and have then believe the information when recent events and discussions have gone against their discussions and agreements. This is a crucial point in this relationship and this message needs to be brought to the highest level of the chain.

Marine Scotland taken note of the concerns raised and will share this within Marine Scotland.

Update on recent Scottish Government commitments on Marine Protected Areas

Outline of the process to develop MPA and PMF fisheries management measures so far

Marine Scotland and NatureScot presented a powerpoint presentation to give an overview of the background, process and updates occurring on the Inshore MPA and PMF project.

Feedback/questions from attendees:

  • clarification was required regarding the use of stakeholder feedback and confirmation that decisions are still based on evidence, there is worry for the industry being involved in the process if decisions are not being made on evidence
  • Marine Scotland highlighted that stakeholder engagement is still included in the process and is an important step and that decisions are made on an evidence based process
  • clarification was required on the use of NatureScot advice for fisheries management measures


  • none

Discussion on proposed MPA fisheries management measures

Marine Scotland and NatureScot presented slides and maps on the sites for discussion and opened up discussed the following MPA and PMF sites:

  • Dornock Firth and Morrich Moore and Moray Firth
  • Forth and Tay and Eden Estuary
  • Isle of May
  • East Caithness Cliffs
  • Loch Eriboll

Marine Scotland highlighted the importance and use of plotter data in order to provide evidence for changes to proposed management measures.

Key discussion points on Dornock Firth and Morrich Moore and Moray Firth

  • a stakeholder highlighted that there are grounds within the MPA are important for scallop and squid fishing
  • stakeholders raised a question if there are options for a feedback mechanism to reflect improving technology/gear changes (e.g. eviro dredges) that would reduce risk and if something could be written into the guidance to allow industry to propose a change and the mechanism by which that request can be done, formalisation for a procedure for apply for a revision of measures for fishers to apply to allow an open line of communication for fishers to feel free to approach and discuss
  • clarification required to the details of the maps and request to improve details of the maps e.g. legends and scales
    • Marine Scotland reminded and show that Digital MPA and PMF management areas can be accessed through Marine Scotland’s mapping portal NMPI with the links available at:
  • clarification was required on when assessing the control measures what methods or criteria are used for the effects and impacts of fishing and how can fishermen recommend of challenge the risk
    • Nature Scot provided explanation on how the risk based to advice and how impact of an activity including magnitude and intensity is considered as well as the sensitivity of the feature in question
  • a stakeholder made comments, in addition to Dundee meeting, of the cumulative effective of static in comparison to mobile gear and should also be considered in the advice as the proposed management measures change the fishing activity in areas
  • clarification required over anchorages within MPAs given they have impact on the seabed
  • a stakeholder commented if more specific restrictions rather than blanket bans to areas (e.g. specific dredges or size class) can be addressed, this point was also raised in a previous Inverness meeting and hasn’t been addressed at subsequent meetings and general observation that no information changes between meetings
    • Marine Scotland taken this point as an action and confirmed that they are gathering all the information from these meting then will review and analyse the information to provide any possible changes
  • clarification was required over the issuing of licences/site for disposing of dredged material within MPAs
  • question regarding next stage in process if there will be further chance for feedback after all the meetings evidence has been reviewed
    • Marine Scotland confirmed that there will be further chance to input into the process, there will not be another round of such numerous stakeholder meetings, however the public consultation will allow feedback and comments to be accepted
  • a stakeholder required clarification around timelines and steps of this process as there is concern Marine Scotland is following a series of processes rather than focusing on substance of conversations with focused groups


  • Marine Scotland to contact OFA/Fisher regarding plotter data from fisher that fish for scallops within the MPA
  • Marine Scotland to contact Fisher for plotter data of squid fishing, as highlighted in the Dundee meeting
  • Marine Scotland to investigate potential for a formalised procedure for apply for a revision of measures for a site
  • Marine Scotland to improve maps for future meetings/engagement and investigate if digital versions of the maps can be sent out or downloadable and/or can be imposed onto Fishers own charts
  • consider if for this site a restriction on size (<10m) or use of environmental dredge can be optioned
  • Marine Scotland to investigate if it is possible to have downloadable versions of the sites for fishers to use on their own charts and/or if possible to super impose onto the plotter data instead
  • investigate the cumulative effects of static gear in comparison to the reduction of mobile fishing gear

Discussion on proposed MPA fisheries management measures

Marine Scotland resumed the meeting and began the second half of this meeting by clarifying points raised in the chat function of Teams and assured that proposals are not finalised until the Minister’s make final decision so there is plenty of time for feedback/information to be incorporated.

Comments made include:

  • this is a frustration point for some stakeholders as it gives the suggestion that proposals can be changed at any point, we should focus on providing strong proposal which will be upheld to the end point of the process
  • additional point that if Marine Scotland are providing options to ministers seems even more confusing and drifts away for the set out proposals we are discussing

Key discussion points on Forth and Tay and Eden Estuary

  • comments made from stakeholders in this meetings, and reinforced from the Dundee meeting, that the boundary area for closed area contains a large proportion on no features and question why this remains closed to fishing, it seems that the line has been drawn for easier administrative purposes rather than based on evidence
    • Marine Scotland will action this point and look into why the line was drawn this particular way and liaise with compliance colleagues
  •  a stakeholder raised a question about whether wind farm anchorages are allowed and if vessels can shelter within MPAs
    • NatureScot explain the input they have into vessel management and that there are laws and exceptions to vessels for harbouring/sheltering due to human safety concerns
  •  a stakeholder stated that if closing certain areas to fishing why some areas can’t be awarded back for fishing
    • Marine Scotland highlighted that fisheries closures are a separate team and process and MPAs are not designed to be a fisheries management tool
  • a stakeholder stated that the remote handling of these meetings and that in person meetings would have been more appropriate for drawing lines on physical maps, rushing these meetings is not good for this process and should have been postponed one or two months to meet in person and start these discussion again

Key discussion points on Isle of May

  • clarification raised over the measurements of this site and if it possible to get the coordinates in digital forms
    • Marine Scotland showed scale of this site through the online portal and provided measurements in nautical miles
  •  a stakeholder stated that historically on the west side of the Isle for scallop dredging occurs

Key discussion points on East Caithness cliffs

  • no points/comments raised

Key discussion points on Loch Eriboll

  • concern raised over the process as should it not be that you are asking for if there is fishing within the area rather than strengthening the scientific evidence first
  • there are little PMFs in the area to justify the boundaries and should be reconsidered
    • Marine Scotland confirmed that this boundary is only a starting point and taking on proposals for amendments, NatureScot are conducting further surveys in the area which will hopefully strengthen the scientific evidence of feature data
  • boundary is difference from what was shown at the Dundee meeting and the boundary could be shifted to further south within the Loch
    • Marine Scotland confirmed the wrong boundary area was shown at the Dundee meeting
  • general concern raised over this site and the others that the fisheries sector is not agreeing to decisions that could potential affect future fisheries that may occur due to climate change, species movement changing or technology changes
  • stakeholder raised concerns about administrative straight lines as now vessel tracking has had improvement these should be taken into account, and if it would be possible for vessel tracking (VMS/REM) to be made mandatory in order to fish within MPAs instead of closing areas
  • clarification was given over the fisheries management measures for this site are currently only for mobile bottom contacting gear and not static gear (e.g. creels)
  • a stakeholder stated that AIS signal is often lost within the loch due to the surrounding geographical features
  • clarification required over if protection will be offered for fishing vessels anchoring within MPAs
  • a stakeholder stated that fishing representatives will enquire with members if there is a scallop fishery within this site


  • Marine Scotland will re-consider the management boundary for the closed area of Forth and Tay and Eden Estuary which does not contain any features
  • Marine Scotland will send to the North and East Coast RIFG the coordinates of all the sites and in action point seven see if it is possible to send out digital forms
  • Marine Scotland to investigate claim of scallop dredging on the west side of the Isle of May
  • Marine Scotland to consider boundary change for Loch Eriboll to be further south of the mouth of the Loch
  • Marine Scotland to enquire about the use of VMS/REM as compliance methods for fishing within MPAs
  • NatureScot to send evidence to RIFGs of the evidence/data used to inform advice of the impact of static gear (e.g. Heriot watt PhD and Lyme Bay)

Conclusions and close

Marine Scotland chair again requested plotter data for sites to be sent to Marine Scotland which are held only within our team for the purposes of this project.

Marine Scotland thanked attendees for their time and input in tonight’s meetings discussions.

Meeting adjourned at 9:20pm.

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