Publication - Minutes

Phase 2 MPA measures and PMF review minutes: Ullapool - 9 January 2020

Published: 6 Oct 2021
Date of meeting: 9 Jan 2020
Location: The MacPhail Centre, Ullapool

Minutes of Marine Scotland's meeting on 9 January 2020 in Ullapool 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: Ullapool - 9 January 2020

Attendees and apologies

Attendee organisations:

  • Marine Scotland
  • Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)
  • North Minch Shellfish Association (NMSA)
  • Ross, Sutherland, Skye and Lochalsh Fisherman’s Association (RSSLA)
  • Mallaig and Northwest Fishermen’s Association (MNFA)
  • Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance (CIFA)
  • Scottish Scallop Divers Association (SSDA)
  • West Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group (WCRIFG)
  • North West Responsible Fishing Association (NWRFA)

Items and actions

General points

Stakeholder highlighted that following result of Phase 1 MPA management measures project there was limited trust in Government and therefore some in the industry were reluctant to engage.

How MS picks areas for marine protection was queried, i.e. why not put them in areas that don’t affect fishing industry. MS provided explanation and background to PMF identification. 

Question whether creel measures may be brought in in the future, it was highlighted that there were no current plans. 

There were concerns over the age of some data points. It was suggested that MS should heavily invest in getting up to date data across the board before bringing in management measures, but also highlighted that this may result in significantly greater area requiring management.

It was suggested that incentives such as herring quota in exchange for fisheries closures would make measures more palatable to fishers and support affected communities. 

Some stakeholders suggested that support to encourage diversification in fishing was needed; MS highlighted that the opportunity already exists but uptake has been limited so far. 

Concerns were raised about frequency of monitoring of sites. It was suggested that there should be set schedule for not only reviewing designations but monitoring all PMF sites. 

Stakeholders highlighted  that surveys should be undertaken to show positive result following any closure (e.g. sprats in Inner Sound). This would incentivise closures by showing benefits. 

It was highlighted that a lot of the areas from Raasay/Scalpay south are important for sheltered fishing during poor weather. 

It was suggested that seasonal closures should be considered rather than full closures; MS/SNH highlighted that this would provide insufficient protection for the PMFs in question.

Action:

  • MS to investigate supposed economic benefits on ban of Loch Broom scalloping, and whether figure of £XM benefit to local economy came from SG paper

Discussion about West Coast PMF management measures (North to South)

Handa

Some fish through Sound of Handa and to the South. Areas not trawled heavily; seasonally only. SNH noted that the northern sea fan feature might be excluded because unlikely to be much more habitat through the sound. Maerl record is not recent; 2007. Concerns about age of data, although a scallop diver suggested that extent of maerl is much greater than records suggest and is good quality. Maerl was also present tight along west coast. There were trawl areas in the northern basin.

Eddrachillis Bay

General agreement that it’s too shallow for trawlers, though some of the larger boats may creep into the lower entrance. Limited concerns were raised at the meeting. 

Enard Bay

MS confirmed that this area was no longer being considered due to a lack of data on PMF presence and distribution.

Port Erradale/Gairloch

Prolific squid ground, though squid fishery is not heavily exploited due to difficulty in transporting catch from west to east coast. Good herring spawning ground. Fishers present expressed a desire for a seasonal closure (currently under discussion through the IFG) rather than full, but given that is not possible for maerl, propose reducing the size of any management area. Feel area is too extensive due to issue of displacement. Highly dredged ground, prolific for scallops. Fishers generally unhappy for this site to be shut.

Red Point 

Maerl recorded between 20 & 30m contours. Not too concerned; boats primarily working north of proposed area. Boats don’t work area south of Red Point. Additional maerl records from 2019 north of site briefly mentioned. 

Rubha Chuaig, Inner Sound

Site largely within seasonal triangle for closure. Likely 3-4 fishing boats fishing there but none in attendance at the meeting.

North Inner Sound

Seasonal closure. Shallow at top end. Creel ground rather than mobile gear. Will affect some mobile fishers but none at the meeting. Mallaig fishers may be better able to advise. 

North Crowlin Islands

Shallow, hard bank. Mallaig fishers may be better able to advise, none in the meeting affected.

Pabay, Inner Sound

Confirmed boats do go in there, though no affected fishers in the meeting. Records along 10m contour line. 

Longay, Inner Sound

Discussed that recent records show that flame shells may no longer be present down the West side of the island. More recent records to the north and south of the island.

Scalpay, Inner Sound

May affect Mallaig fishers, none in meeting affected.

Raasay to Scalpay

MS highlighted that there is opportunity to trim this site. Fishers think there may be prawn tows down the back of Raasay. May affect Mallaig fishers, none in meeting affected. 

Sound of Raasay

This site provides good shelter from prevailing winds, and is also under high pressure from aquaculture due to being easily accessible and well protected (further sites currently under consideration). A fisher goes along this line (at the base of the rock wall) every day but not present at meeting; their association has agreed to encourage him to attend another of our meetings so that we can understand where he fishes.

Ascrib Islands

Seasonally fished with 6-9 boats from Uig most likely to be affected. Boats fish round South end, and keep in relatively tight to the west side of the islands. Fishing area sketched on map; closely mirrors initial MS/SNH thoughts on potential refinements.

Loch Bay

None in room affected.

Duirinish, Skye

Highlighted that MS/SNH have discussed amending the proposed area which would become significantly smaller, due to the large gap between features. Fishers seem content with proposed amended boundary and focus on mapped maerl area at the south end.

Loch Bracadale, Skye

Frequently fished. Map annotated to show how far they enter, and an alternative proposed management boundary. Fishers also proposed opening Loch Harport (SE) up for mobile gear; currently unfished due to high number of creels, but no reason in terms of habitat why it couldn’t be fished with mobile gear without affecting PMFs.

Loch Eynort, Skye

Currently used for creeling, too shallow for most to put effort in. 

Loch Scavaig, Skye

Huge amount of ground for scallops and prawns. Majority of proposed area can be towed. Area heavily relied upon for shelter & poor weather fishing in winter, and summer prawn fishery in there too. 4-5 boats in winter, double in summer. Proposed amended boundaries provided. 

Loch Eishort and Slapin, Skye

Small boats particular. Well used area which could put small boats out of business as some are almost entirely reliant on it. Fishers propose taking boundaries tight to coast. Big boats go down the central deeper lengths of the site, but small boats reliant on margins. Map annotated to reflect areas used by fishers, and alternative proposed management boundary.

Small Isles MPA

Very discontent with proposed management measures in site. Suggestion that Mallaig fishers also likely to be very discontent with proposals. 
Would like higher resolution boundary around the edges of the MPA / proposed management zones. Fishers highlighted that two sectors (mobile / static gear) have worked well side by side very well for many years in this site and feel this should be recognised, and suggested that a creel limit should be considered from the outset.
MS urged to compromise management within MPA to make it sustainable for fishers.

N.b. Key on map provided showed that all dredgers would be banned from the whole MPA which is incorrect. Demersal trawls and mechanical dredges (on vessels with engine power of 500kw or less) would be permitted in the hatched area.

Action:

  • contact attendees and share corrected proposed MPA management for Small Isles, invite comment

All fishers were encouraged to provide evidence of the areas they used for fishing by providing plotter data so that MS could take this into account.

Action point summary

  • MS to investigate supposed economic benefits on ban of Loch Broom scalloping, and whether figure of £XM benefit to local economy came from SG paper
  • MS to share corrected proposed MPA management map for Small Isles for attendees to comment on