Phase 2 MPA measures and PMF review minutes: Tarbert - 17 February 2020

Minutes of Marine Scotland's meeting on 17 February 2020 in Tarbert prior to enacting phase 2 Marine Protected Areas (MPA) measures and Priority Marine Features (PMF) review.

Attendees and apologies

Attendee organisations:

  • Marine Scotland (MS)
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • West Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group
  • Scottish White Fish Producers Organisation
  • 9 fishers from Tarbert and Campbeltown

Items and actions

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

General concerns

CIFA members clearly stated at the outset of the meeting that they did not class the meeting as engagement but rather information sharing. They stated that they would not engage with Marine Scotland as they did previously for discussions about Phase 1 MPA measures, as the measures implemented were far more restrictive that what had been anticipated. MS highlighted that this is a different situation with different circumstances and Ministers, and encouraged fishers to use this opportunity to feed into the development of proposals for Phase 2 MPA and PMF management.  

CIFA highlighted that they plan to push back on all proposed PMF management measures as they are a Scottish Government commitment rather than EU requirement.

SWFPO highlighted that they were surprised when draft consultation document was shared for meeting on 01 October 2019, as proposals differed significantly from what they had previously understood them to be. Marine Scotland highlighted that the aim is to minimise the impact Scotland’s inshore fishing industry whilst providing sufficient protection for the proposed PMFs and MPA features. 

SWFPO reinforced that they hope Marine Scotland consider plotter data submitted following the meeting to minimise impact on industry; Marine Scotland confirmed that and encouraged attendees to submit available data to inform the development of proposals.  

Concern raised about how quickly Marine Scotland are looking to implement measures.

Concern raised by fishers about the type of data used to identify PMFs, particularly citizen science. They highlighted that there appears to be a blanket movement to promote citizen science following a paper published by COAST on 13 February 2020, and COAST plan to teach citizen science for recording PMFs this weekend.

Fishers highlighted that development of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) on vessels should help fishers to avoid fishing over features. They stated that they would like for REM to be in place before measures are proposed so that MS has a stronger understanding of the systems accuracy in advance of proposals. MS reinforced that contracts have been awarded recently for REM to be taken forward throughout 2020, and that REM will be used to inform management in the future. 

Discussion about maerl; fisher felt that if MS protect every maerl bed in Scotland then it will end scallop fishing in the Clyde, and highlighted that there is only one proposed PMF management site for maerl in the Clyde that will not impact on industry. Fisher also felt that Clyde is abundant in maerl. Fishers queried what proportion of maerl needs to be protected in Clyde region to meet conservation targets; SNH highlighted that all maerl is considered to have conservation value.

Fisher highlighted a high level of recent investment in business and concern that these measures will be the end of their business (over the winter period they spent >£50k maintaining their vessel). 

Industry feel they have not been treated equally throughout process of developing and implementing management, as they are being impacted particularly hard yet are adhering to measures when they perceive other industries are not (e.g. aquaculture). 

Fisher highlighted that MS should consider the impact on industry if considering management for sites without recent survey records. SNH highlighted that they do not have resource to revisit all sites during each set of surveys, but that records are scrutinised when considering specific policy applications. SNH also highlighted that additional surveys would likely identify a greater number of positive PMF records.

Fishers concerned that ongoing citizen science surveys are likely to greatly increase number of positive PMF records. SNH highlighted that citizen science must meet quality standards, and that if records are gained it is because a feature exists.

Fishers asked how west coast fares in comparison to east coast. MS agree that majority of PMF records are on West coast and islands due to geography. SNH also highlighted that there are some mussel records on east coast, but they are already protected within MPAs.

Fishers asked if Ministers would vote on individual sites or packages. MS confirm ministers would be presented with packages of proposals.

Fishers sought clarification about whether socioeconomic impact analysis of Phase 1 measures will be considered when reviewing sites. MS confirm that they will, and that report will likely be available in advance of public consultation.

Fishers queried whether they will be able to feed into SEIA in advance of public consultation. MS stated that SEIA will be rerun following pre-consultation stakeholder engagement. 

Fisher enquired whether GPS coordinates are available for proposed PMF management areas. MS confirm they are and offered to share.


  • MS to share coordinates for PMF management areas with fishers/attendees

Attendees were concerned that fishers are left with increasingly fewer areas that they are able to fish as management areas continue to be implemented. This means that proposed measures will have a proportionally greater impact than if they are considered in isolation of other measures. 

Fishers stress that some sites are only fished once or twice a year, but due to increasing restrictions, these sites are becoming increasingly valuable. 

Fishers sought clarification as to whether MS would propose an option that only constrains fishing within PMF sites with buffers. SNH explain this is very unlikely because buffers are unlikely to cover existence of all given features.

Fishers asked if they will be given opportunity to comment on amended boundaries; MS confirmed that all proposals will go out to public consultation.

SWFPA proposed additional workshop in advance for public consultation for fishers to view amended proposals and to give fishers additional opportunity to provide supporting information. MS agreed to consider meeting with representatives at a later date, in advance of consultation. 

Query about whether static gears could be as damaging as mobile gear. SNH acknowledge that static gear doesn’t always leave sea bed undamaged, and informed fishers that further research is being done in this area. 

Fisher suggested that removable batteries for REM system would increase usability, as the outboard engine and generator often cannot  support it for full day of fishing.


  • MS to share further information where possible about REM with fisher

Fishers queried value of protecting degraded maerl. SNH clarify that, even if maerl itself is unlikely to recover, the communities that it supports could recover.

Discussion about PMF management areas

Loch Craignish

Anchorage in site. Highlighted neighbouring large MPA that already restricts fishing. Highlighted prawn tows at head of loch. SNH highlighted that shallow margins are of interest for seagrass. CIFA has a member that fishes around the Northern sea fan records; suggest they are likely to be fishing close to but avoiding the feature itself.

Loch Tarbert, Jura

Fishers queried why proposed management extends so far beyond known records. MS highlighted that this was a precautionary approach. SNH highlighted that additional surveys were undertaken in 2018/2019 and are subsequently content to recommend MS can reduce the size of the management area without impacting the feature.

Query about why Marine Scotland would still consider unrefined areas, particularly given that Marine Scotland and SNH see no reason to keep management area in Loch Tarbert, Jura, at its current size following null records. Marine Scotland will consider reducing size of proposed areas for the “unrefined” option in public consultation to reflect 2018/2019 data.

Sound of Islay

Suggestion to move boundary line up to north of island. Fishers state they do not fish up the sound because it is difficult to negotiate with tide. The deep hole in the top end of the site is fished for scallops. Fishers propose reducing upper and lower boundary. They come right up to south end of island so don’t consider area following depth contour to be acceptable.

West Loch Tarbert

One fisher present is reliant on this area for sheltered scallop fishing grounds, & fishes south of the mouth of the loch. Request MS to reduce boundary to enable existing tows.

NE Gigha

Fishers highlighted that fish farm extension has been approved. Scallop boats fish area but not queenie fishery following development of fish farm. Fishers go right along the shore. Propose changing boundary to follow depth contour.

Port Ellen to Ardbeg

Islay fishers more likely to fish this area, none in room affected. Suspect that only diving and creeling is undertaken in area but fishers will try to seek further information for MS. 

SE Gigha

SNH highlighted that the most northerly record is not in a very good condition, but that the lower records are more reliable as they are much more recent. There is no proposed management for this site, but SNH highlighted that it would be better to protect the maerl in this site, with minimal impact to industry, than in other proposed sites due to the high quality of maerl known to exist here. 

Loch a Chnuic and Adilistry

Islay fishers more likely to fish this, none in room affected. CIFA will try to seek further information for MS.  

Skipness Point

Fishers present state that this site is not a productive fishing ground. It is too shallow for fishers, though divers are sometimes seen there. Fishers query why maerl beds are degraded if the area is not fished; SNH highlighted that they do not have information about what areas are actively fished and suggested that it appears to have been fished going by site records. Fisher suggested that it was likely fished at 2/3 fathom historically, which may account for the damage.      

Fisher queried whether razor clam fisheries would be classified as mobile gear, as they are fished along edge of seagrass. MS agreed to look further into this; local fishery officers don’t feel that would classify as there are no weekend closures, but agree that it would sensibly classify as mobile bottom contacting gear. If razor clam is considered mobile bottom contacting then it could have an impact on local fishery rules i.e. they could no longer fish at the weekend.


  • Marine Scotland to consider and clarify whether electrofishing for razor clams would be classified as mobile bottom contacting gear and therefore restricted by management measures

Kyles of Bute

Fishers come right into the kyles, but cannot get into upper narrows. They proposed moving management boundary up to the natural narrowing of the kyles. Fishers highlight that there are prawn grounds throughout the area. SNH highlighted that the maerl record at the lower end of the site is relatively new and close to the shore. Records are at approx. 4m, and so fishers proposed using 10m depth contour instead around record to define management area. They also suggested following the depth contour at the upper end of the management site as fishers use this area to turn their tows when prawn fishing. 

Ardlamont Point

Prawns and scallop grounds. No amendments proposed by fishers as the full area is reportedly fished. Most PMF records follow 10m contour. CIFA member highlighted that they can provide plotter data for the site. SWFPA suggested protecting cluster of maerl at south end and opening up remainder of site, in accordance with National Marine Plan. Fishers open to considering this proposal. This is considered to be an important site for sheltered fishing. 


Fishers dredge full lower area for scallops, and also catch them right around the rock on lower SE side. No proposed boundary amendments from fishers as full area felt to be important. Suggest that similar argument could be used as for Ardlamont Point, whereby management is implemented for area with biggest cluster of features but not elsewhere (so SE and W area). SFWPA encouraged fishers to share fishing information for site.

SW Bute

Full area is fished; scallops in middle and prawns on outside of area. Fishers suggested making it into two smaller management areas, as two records are far apart. Upper point is on edge of scallop fishing grounds. Fisher suggested increased buffer zone for this area instead of larger management area.

Sannox, Arran

Scallops in area. Fishers suggested bringing management area in tighter to maerl records. Anchorage in area. 

Merkland, Arran

Tows through this site, in line with maerl records. 


Fishers queried data source because they do not agree with PMF record (they are aware of other areas with horse mussels unknown to SNH but this is not one of them). SNH stated that records are from sea search and agree to follow up on records. Greenock boats may be affected by this site as they are likely to be towing into 15m depth, so suggest there is potential to amend boundary contour to minimise impact of site. 


  • SNH to review Seasearch horse mussel bed records for Gourock site

Loch Long (Upper)

Prawn trawls known to exist in deeper area. As horse mussel records are within 10-20 m on slope, fishers suggest that depth contour would enable fishing whilst protecting features. Fishers highlighted that there is a fish farm at Ardgarten. Only one boat known to be affected; MS encouraged fishers to ask affected individual to share data.

Discussion about proposed MPA management

Moine Mhor

Attending fishers not affected and content with proposals. Fishers question why management required given more likely to be impacted by walkers due to shallow/dry nature of tidal area. 

Solway firth MPA

No proposed changes for management as existing management has been deemed sufficient. No attending fishers affected by this site. 

Clyde Sill MPA

SNH clarified that hatched section is open for trawling and closed to dredging. Fisher highlighted that NE area within site is important for the scallop fishery; SNH clarified that NE area is open to scallop fishing. Fishers seemed content that available area leaves most prolific scallop grounds open. 

SNH highlighted that the restriction around the island is 2km in diameter and designed to protect kelp for guillemots. Fisher disagreed that full area should be closed to set nets.

Fishers highlighted that scallop boats go closer to Gigha that possible with given management, and felt that the depth is too great for kelp. Fishers highlight a need for MS to get feed-in from affected fishers from across Scotland. Suggest amending SE boundary around Sanda to use depth contour to minimise impact in industry.

MS clarified that restriction on set nets across MPA is for black guillemots and that other measures are intended to protect sea bed features. There are not many boats using set nets at present, but fishers stressed a need to minimise impact on this fishing method so that the fishery can potentially be exploited in the future.

Clams historically collected right around island, less so on west side.


  • SNH to review advice on set nets for Clyde Sill MPA

Action point summary

  • MS to share coordinates for PMF management areas with fishers/attendees
  • MS to share further information where possible about REM with fisher
  • Marine Scotland to consider and clarify whether electrofishing for razor clams would be classified as mobile bottom contacting gear and therefore restricted by management measures
  • SNH to review Seasearch horse mussel bed records for Gourock site
  • SNH to review advice on set nets for Clyde Sill MPA
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