Publication - Minutes

Phase 2 MPA measures and PMF review minutes: Mallaig - 7 February 2020

Published: 6 Oct 2021
Location: Mallaig and Morar Community Centre, Mallaig

Minutes of Marine Scotland's meeting on 7 February 2020 in Mallaig prior to enacting phase 2 Marine Protected Areas (MPA) measures and Priority Marine Features (PMF) review.

Published:
6 Oct 2021
Phase 2 MPA measures and PMF review minutes: Mallaig - 7 February 2020

Attendees and apologies

Attending organisations:

  • Marine Scotland
  • SNH
  • West Coast RIFG
  • Mallaig & North-West Fishermen’s Association
  • West of Scotland Fish Producers’ Organisation
  • Ross, Sutherland, Skye and Lochalsh Fishermen's Association (RSSLFA)
  • Scottish Fishermen’s Foundation
  • Scottish White Fish Producers Organisation

Items and actions

To note - this is Marine Scotland's record of the meeting. It has not been agreed by meeting participants.

General points

A fisher suggested that maerl still exists in some areas that are fished, and so it is therefore coping with fishing pressure and should not require additional management measures. SNH reiterated that maerl is impacted by sedimentation from dredging and trawling and is broken into progressively smaller pieces, impacting on the quality of the available habitat (as highlighted in scene setting presentation at outset of meeting).

It was queried whether only a proportion of each of the selected features must be protected, or whether all records for each must be protected. SNH clarified that it was feature dependant; for instance all maerl records are important to the national status, but some other features can be viewed on more of a case by case basis e.g. Northern sea fan and Sponge communities.

Statement from fisher that the act of fishing is beneficial to marine environment, supporting carbon cycle within seabed and creating additional habitat e.g. for fan mussels. SNH confirmed that this is not the case, and that in many cases features in question can only exist if there is no fishing using mobile bottom contacting gear. 

Clarification was sought on whether selected features will be protected from other types of marine activity. MS confirmed that other activities are managed through the marine licencing process and are therefore already under restrictions. Fishers requested MS ensure that management is applied universally and not only to the fishing sector.

Fishers felt that there is too much guess work in selection of protection areas, and that MS should only propose management for areas with specific known data with given buffers. MS highlighted that the proposed areas are larger than only the buffer area around known records to provide protection for potential unrecorded habitat.

Clarification sought from attendee if management equates to closure. MS confirmed that proposed management would create spatial closure for fishing using mobile bottom contacting gear.

Fishers did not feel that mechanism for distributing maps and information in advance of meetings sufficient; many only aware due to word of mouth. One fisher suggested that maps should have been shared in advance of meeting, along with request for plotter data. MS confirmed that this had all been done via Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups, which should have in turn cascaded to IFMAC and FMAC and associations, on to individual fishers. 

Actions:

  • MS to discuss distribution method with RIFG chairs to improve communication with fishers in advance of meetings
  • Mallaig and North-West Fishermen’s Association offered to facilitate a local workshop specifically for affected fishers who are well prepared in advance to discuss each of the proposed management areas

Fishers suggest adding data to admiralty charts to enable them to better identify affected areas, and request link to NMPi map with appropriate layers and data. MS confirmed that they would consider this and do so if possible in given timeframe. 

Actions:

  • MS to send NMPi link to fishers with PMF and MPA areas, inc. feature data if available
  • MS to investigate adding data to admiralty charts for distribution to fishers

Fisher asked if MS could open up existing closures if they wish to use fishing gear that is not mobile bottom contacting. MS encouraged fishers to make case to RIFG if they wanted to investigate this further.

One attendee questioned how additional data will be incorporated into process as it is gathered going forward. MS confirmed that there will be a review process following implementation of measures, and that new data points will have to be deemed significant to the national status of the specified feature for additional management to be considered. 

General concern from fishers that PMFs are being given greater consideration and protection than fishing industry, and stress MS must be able to clearly support rationale for protection measures. 

Fishers voiced concern that the live market will reduce following EU Exit, meaning that these measures will have an even greater impact on the industry because creelers may be forced to return to mobile fishing. 

Fishers highlighted that the current working relationship between mobile and static sectors is okay, with minimal gear conflict. They voiced concern that this process may disrupt this relationship by creating conflict in terms of areas used.

Industry voiced concern about the age of some of the PMF survey data e.g. from the 1990s. SNH explained that some features have stood the test of time for hundreds/thousands of years e.g. maerl beds, rocky reef areas and so will still be there unless damage/impact is has occurred. The age, location and type of feature will be considered on a case by case basis. 

Discussion about Mallaig PMF management measures

Inverie Loch Nevis

No comments raised

South of Muck

Fishers felt the area was too big and highlighted that most of the area is fished. Query about whether this could be left open and alternative areas protected, and also if area could be focussed around the Northern sea fan and fan mussels in the northern area. Suggestion to separate management area into two to minimise impact on industry. 

Muck

Confirmed there are tows here, and suggestions that protection could instead by given by creating two areas instead. Suggestion that there is towing activity in the north and south of the fish farm.

Eigg

This is a sheltered area that is fished during poor weather. Fishers tow right along the shore in the deeper area so potential for following a depth contour instead of having boundary further from coast. Propose bringing eastern edge in along wall. Suggestion that perhaps protection is unnecessary since habitat of feature is self-protecting on sea wall. Reportedly good grounds for scallops on SE of area. Suggestion from fishers that management area does not need to go as far south as currently proposed. 

Oberon Bank

MS confirmed this management area will be redrawn to make it smaller as lower data record was originally mislabelled and is not relevant.

Loch nan Ceall, Arisaig

Unlikely anyone fishing this site, no fishers in room affected. Suggestion that there may be scallop diving in proposed management area.

Loch nan Uamh, Arisaig

MS highlight this this area will be reduced prior to public consultation. Area from islands near north coast to the west is active scallop fishing area. No dredging or trawling in upper loch, i.e. from islands in towards the bay.

Bo Fascadale

Significant concern voiced about proposed management area, as scallop fishing is common across whole area and working both sides of the banks. Fishers then highlighted that they would require access to inner area; suggest two smaller squares to N and S end of proposed site. 

Sandaig Bay, Loch Nevis

No concern from fishers present.

Eishort and Slappin, Skye

MS highlighted that previous discussions suggest there may be value for fishers in tightening boundary to inner depth contour. Particularly contentious area. 

Loch Scavaig

Fishers reportedly tow right round Soay and in Soay Sound. Fishers suggest excluding protection for most westerly record. This site has value as provides sheltered fishing grounds during poor weather. Particularly contentious area. RSSLFA will send detail independently on Loch Scavaig,

Action:

  • RSSLFA to provide plotter information for Loch Scavaig area

Loch Eynort, Skye

No issues from fishers present, though feel it is excessive for existing record.

Loch Bracadale

MS highlight that aware already there is likely significant concern surrounding this proposed management area. No comments given on site. RSSLFA will send detail independently on Loch Bracadale.  

Action:

  • RSSLFA to provide plotter information for Loch Bracadale area

Loch Duirinish

MS highlight looking to reduce site significantly. No concerns raised. 

Note – No one in room fishes mobile gear around north of Skye. Discussions moved onto east side of Skye. 

Pabay, Inner Sound

Fisher doesn’t think area will affect him personally. MS highlight sites are on depth contour, so could potentially bring northern boundary in a bit. 

Longay, Inner Sound

MS confirm that site will be reviewed to amend boundary following 2019 data. Slight concern from fisher about how far northern boundary would extend, due to close proximity with next PMF area to NW along coast of Scalpay.

Raasay to Scalpay, Inner Sound

Northern box on Scalpay – Tows along Scalpay shore between features. Fishers feel features should largely protect themselves here. Currently town round back of Guram Rock on SE side and would like to see this remain. RSSLFA will send detail independently on site following discussion in Portree on Tuesday past.   

Action:

  • RSSLFA to provide plotter information for Raasay to Scalpay, Inner Sound area

N Crowlin Islands

Present fishers not affected.

Sound of Raasay, Skye

Site follows depth contour; RSSLFA has reviewed site and will share coordinates where fishers come closest to contour for our awareness. 

Action:

  • RSSLFA to provide information for Sound of Raasay, Skye

Discussion about Mallaig PMF management measures

Loch Moidart and Sound of Arisaig SAC

Present fishers not affected.

Moine Mhor SAC

No concerns raised; attendees content with proposed management. 

Small Isles MPA

Suggest changing maps to make hatched areas the prohibited areas. 

Action:

  • MS to consider amending map so that hatched areas on Small Isles MPA map to show prohibitions rather than open areas

Fisher suggests they have not been consulted on this version of the map, and discontent because MS have seemingly moved amended boundary without speaking to industry. MS confirm that the maps given are the same as those used in 2016 consultation. Fisher not appeased with this response. 

High level of discontent about proposed management, particularly across Canna Sound

MS acknowledged that fishers have already fed into this process repeatedly over the years, but encourage fishers to provide plotter data to MS to support development of these management measures. 

Suggestion that area along SE coast should be left open to trawls, as maerl is not protected feature of site. SNH reportedly said this area could be opened up without affecting protected features of site previously.

Action:

  • MS to contact David Donnan at SNH to discuss advice regarding the SE side of the Small Isles MPA management area

Static sector and mobile sector both reportedly against MPA designation and management. Questioned the point of the MPA and the value of the features e.g. fan mussel. MS clarified that MPA is already designated, and that management measures are required. 

Industry highlighted that fishing activity is decreasing and suggest its reducing impact should be taken into consideration.

High level of resistance generally to having any management in this site; fishers losing patience with ongoing discussions about management and good will to engage in dialogue is fading.

Fishers highlight that measures are very likely to impact on local communities and industry, and wish this to be made very clear to Ministers. 

Fishers highlight that management areas are likely to significantly increase risk for fishers as it’ll force boats away from sheltered areas into open water during periods of poor weather. 

Fishers questioned quality of data and value in protecting specified features.

It was highlighted that existing MPA measures are from intermediate scenario and asks if we can move to lower scenario due to level of disagreement over site. MS clarified that that the different between those intermediate and lower scenarios is in the economic analysis, based on whether displacement is accounted for or not, and would therefore not affect the management. 

MS stated that MPA and PMF measures are likely to still have separate SEA and SEIA process despite being progressed together. 

Fishers invited to make their own proposals and share evidence to facilitate development of management measures for Small Isles MPA. 

Action point summary

  • MS to discuss distribution method with RIFG chairs to improve communication with fishers in advance of meetings
  • Mallaig and North-West Fishermen’s Association offered to facilitate a local workshop specifically for affected fishers who are well prepared in advance to discuss each of the proposed management areas
  • MS to send NMPi link to fishers with PMF and MPA areas, inc. feature data if available
  • MS to investigate adding data to admiralty charts for distribution to fishers
  • RSSLFA to provide plotter information for Loch Scavaig area
  • RSSLFA to provide plotter information for Loch Bracadale area
  • RSSLFA to provide plotter information for Raasay to Scalpay, Inner Sound area
  • RSSLFA to provide information for Sound of Raasay, Skye
  • MS to consider amending map so that hatched areas on Small Isles MPA map to show prohibitions rather than open areas
  • MS to contact David Donnan at SNH to discuss advice regarding the SE side of the Small Isles MPA management area