Phase 2 MPA measures and PMF review minutes: Mull - 6 February 2020

Minutes of Marine Scotland's meeting on 6 February 2020 in Mull prior to enacting phase 2 Marine Protected Areas (MPA) measures and Priority Marine Features (PMF) review.

Attendees and apologies

Attending organisations:

  • Marine Scotland
  • SNH
  • West Coast RIFG
  • nine external attendees, two mobile gear, rest static/aquaculture (nb, static/aquaculture attendees left early during discussions)

Items and actions

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

General points

Question about conforming to EU Directives; now that we are leaving EU, why must we adhere to EU Directives? MS confirmed that EU directives will be carried over into UK Law, so we will still have requirement to meet them. 

There was concern from fishers about economic impact of measures and that these should be established from last MPA management implementation and also for new proposals. MS confirmed work on economic impacts of last MPA measures is nearing completion and will be published soon and that SEA and SEIA has been undertaken for the current PMF / MPA management proposals. 

Discussion about maerl recovery; one fisher claims that Sound of Barra maerl recovers during closed season and looks bright pink again at beginning of fishing season. SNH highlighted that this was not the case, as outlined in presentation.

Very few mobile fishers present at meeting; one active, and one who no longer fishes as a result of implementation of phase 1 MPA management measures.

Fishers noted that they could not access the map files circulated before the meeting as files were too large to download. 

There was concern from fishers that creel measures will be brought in later; request for MS to be honest and upfront about intention to bring in creel measures. MS clarified that this round of management is for mobile bottom-contacting gear only, though highlighted that 4 MPAs haven’t yet been designated but will require management implementation if designated. 

The was concern from fishers about lack of compliance by aquaculture sites, who questioned the effect of PMF measures and whether aquaculture would need to adhere to these too. MS confirmed effects on PMFs were considered through licensing process and that SEPA was also looking reviewing licencing in relation to PMFs. 

Some fishers felt that PMFs and fishers have coincided for years with no detriment and state that flame shell beds & maerl are coping and recovering with ongoing impact of mobile gear. 

One fisher had provided plotter data to the Outer Hebrides RIFG and was happy to provide further data to us for other proposed PMF management areas.

One fisher stated that seabed requires trawling to enable nitrogen input, that untrawled areas don’t properly recover, and that they are being over established by starfish.

Concern over the number of meetings had between MS and fisheries in the past ~ 5 years and no movement it appears on certain topics e.g. implement curfews on scallop boats and issue of increasing creel numbers.

  • MS confirm there are no current plans to implement scallop curfews; this idea came about through the of Future of Fisheries Management discussions, for which consultation results will be coming out soon
  • MS is taking time to address issues surrounding creel numbers. Modernisation programme will be coming into force, bringing REM in for whole of Scotland’s inshore fleet, which should enable us to understand creel capacity much better than is currently available using FishOne data. Creel pilot project/trial in Outer Hebrides should help us to establish measures in future
  • one participant had tried to get data on effort in relation to creel numbers/tonnage of crab from “Science”, though they weren’t clear who this was. They couldn’t get meaningful output from Science, and had been informed they had no plans to gather this information. MS agreed to discuss this offline and see if links can be improved to get better effort/return data

Discussion about Mull PMF management measures

Ascrib Islands

One boat tows a lot round maerl bed on SW side. Dredger shoots over top of maerl bed maerl on SW and comes up westerly side. Not fussed about lower section, but eastern side is prosperous. 

Ardchiavaig, Mull

Too shallow and too inshore to affect fishers. 

Ulva and Loch Na Keal

Sheltered water can be worked during poor weather. 

Fish majority of area except back of bay (which has no records). 

Doesn’t affect oyster farmer, who was concerned that measures may have affected him. 

Tows right round island in centre and areas in outer part trawled where there is mud. Scallop dredging activity around maerl records. 

Sound of Iona

Doesn’t affect anyone because too shallow and not being fished. 

Poll Athach, N Mull

Clam tows in inner area, amongst maerl. Anchorage right behind innermost maerl record. Used as sheltered ground for scalloping and anchoring. Name should be changed to Loch Cuan (see chart).
Oyster long lines in near the inshore maerl point. Definitely maerl in outer areas but questioned whether the inner one is maerl. (Post meeting note - indication that 'coral' here noted by diver collecting item from seabed in around 5m).

Port Appin

No concerns from mobile gear sector present. They had heard from creeler working area about potential closure of creeling because of potential for impacts from such gear.

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