Publication - Consultation analysis

Planning Scotland's Seas: Scotland's National Marine Plan. Consultation Response Analysis Report

Published: 2 May 2014
Part of:
Marine and fisheries

Planning Scotland’s Seas: Scotland’s National Marine Plan was published for consultation in July 2013. Independent analysis of all written responses to the consultation has been undertaken and is presented in this report.

Planning Scotland's Seas: Scotland's National Marine Plan. Consultation Response Analysis Report


Chapter summary

  • A number of respondents noted the need for more investment in marine research.
  • The fisheries sector felt the Draft NMP does not give adequate support and protection, and prioritises sustainable development over the long term fishing sector. There were also some requests for the management of the fisheries sector to remain at a national level.
  • There were some concerns over the potential for conflict between the fisheries sector and other marine users. There were requests that the NMP should not give a presumption in favour of development, particularly as this may cause displacement and have a negative impact on fragile coastal communities.
  • Some respondents commented that setting levels of Maximum Sustainable Yield implies a degree of scientific certainty that does not actually exist.
  • Some respondents within the environment sector felt that some of the objectives are not achievable or that some are outwith the remit of the NMP.
  • A few other issues were raised by fisheries respondents. These included the need for marine planning to reflect that between 6-12 nautical miles only EU states with historic fishing rights have access to Scottish waters and that mobile and static gear should be referred to separately in terms of the species being fished.

7.1 The Fisheries chapter of the draft NMP presented a number of objectives, provided background and context, noted a number of key issues for marine planning, outlined a number of marine planning policies and outlined the future for the fisheries sector.

Comments on Sea Fisheries, Chapter 6

7.2 It then asked two questions. The first of these asked respondents:

Question 12: Do you have any comments on Sea Fisheries, Chapter 6?

7.3 As can be seen in table 7.1, 55 respondents provided commentary at this question, some of whom made suggestions for alternative wording to different elements of this chapter.

Table 7.1 Question 12: Do you have any comments on Sea Fisheries, Chapter 6?

Respondent group
Individuals (16) 5
Academic / scientific (7) 3
Aquaculture (5) 2
Energy (12) 6
Environment / conservation (9) 6
Fisheries (13) 10
Historic / Heritage (5) 2
Industry / transport (9) 1
Local Authority (15) 10
Local coastal partnership (7) 2
Local group (5) 2
Other public sector (10) 4
Recreation / Tourism (7) -
Other (4) 2
Total (124) 55

7.4 While respondents raised a number of issues in relation to this chapter, most were cited by very small numbers of respondents.

7.5 Of those commenting, a significant number noted their support for various elements of this chapter; some of whom also referred to the importance of the fisheries sector to Scotland. A number of respondents provided information to back up that provided within the chapter, while others made requests for increased investment in marine research, for example to monitor and collect better data about fishing activity. For example, a fisheries organisation commented that the figures used as the basis for Scotland's Marine Atlas are out-of-date and that more recent figures, such as those produced by ICES, should be used.

7.6 A public body noted that the fisheries policies are relatively weak in their consideration of managing the environmental impacts of fisheries, particularly those that do not fall under the regulation of the Common Fisheries Policy ( CFP).

7.7 However, there was a lack of support from organisations within the fisheries sector, with concerns that the Draft NMP shows a lack of support and protection for the fishing industry, and prioritises sustainable development over the long term of the fishing sector. They commented that planners are not following the Marine Policy Statement, which is seen to have a more balanced approach to different activities at sea, for example, conflict between the fishing and renewables sectors. Two fisheries organisations were concerned that the Draft NMP brings an added layer to the control of fisheries in Scotland, which is already subject to controls from Common Fisheries Policy and National Fisheries Policy, and felt there are no advantages to the fisheries sector from the introduction of an NMP.

7.8 These respondents commented that the NMP should not give a presumption in favour of development, particularly as it is not known how effective some offshore developments will be in the longer term. There were also comments from a small number of respondents about the lack of a cohesive marine planning system and associated shore-based developments that will impact on the fisheries sector. Allied to this was a request from a fisheries organisation for detailed guidance to be provided to planning authorities to ensure consistent application on a nationwide basis.

7.9 There were some concerns over the effectiveness of the objective to ensure fish stocks are harvested sustainably leading to exploitation of Scotland's commercial fish stocks at Maximum Sustainable Yield ( MSY). This was suggested on the grounds that setting levels of MSY implies a degree of scientific certainty that does not exist. Furthermore, this figure is open to change on an ongoing basis and it can be difficult to achieve in a mixed fishery. There was a suggestion for a degree of precaution with this target.

7.10 Two Local Authorities referred to EU fisheries policies and noted that marine protection measures should be developed and implemented with a clear understanding of their environmental and socio-economic implications at both a national and local scale. A fisheries organisation noted concern that there is no reference to the EU's proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management which was published in March 2013.

7.11 A number of respondents, including some within the fisheries sector wanted any new fishing policies to be considered in terms of their potential for damage to local communities that are reliant on fishing. They also felt that the impact of planning decisions, and the proportionality of these planning decisions, on local communities needs to be taken into account. There were also some concerns about implementation and application at a local level. Furthermore, there were some suggestions that there should be protection for fishermen in Scotland in the same way as agriculture is protected under land use planning systems.

7.12 A Local Authority and a fisheries organisation commented that Marine Protected Areas and offshore renewable proposals both have the capacity to cause displacement, which could increase pressure on inshore areas and impact on the livelihood of inshore fishermen. They also referred to the issue of mitigation (compensation for loss of income) and additionally, that future developments may also impact negatively on the fishing sector.

7.13 There were concerns stated by some respondents within the environment/ conservation sector that some of the objectives are not achievable or that some of these are outwith the remit of the Draft NMP. They also noted that in its current form, this chapter does not appropriately guide management of sea fisheries in Scotland's seas. Some suggestions were made for objectives to be rewritten or to clarify the objectives that can be delivered by the Plan. Two energy companies also noted that some statements within the Plan are contradictory in the way they are presented. Some respondents within the fisheries sector noted that objective 2, bullet point 1 will not be achieved unless there is recognition of the impact of seals on the fisheries sector and a management plan put in place to regulate the growth of the grey seal population.

7.14 A number of issues were raised by respondents, primarily although not exclusively, within the fisheries group. First, respondents within the fisheries group stated that translation of the NMP stated objectives into practical marine planning processes will need clearer information and understanding regarding different types of fisheries, seasonalities and interactions between sub-sectors. Second, there was a request for commercial, wild salmon and hand gathered and dived fisheries to be recognised within the NMP. Third, there were requests for sectoral information to be provided as background information rather than being embedded within the Draft NMP as it is at present. An example given here included information on the impact of scallop dredging.

7.15 A number of respondents also noted the need for marine policy planning to reflect that between 6-12 nautical miles (Nm), only EU states with historic fishing rights have access to Scottish waters. For example, comments included:

"The Inshore Fisheries Groups' current area of remit only extends to 6Nm. The Inshore Fisheries Management and Conservation Group currently has responsibility for fisheries management in the 6 - 12 Nm area. The relationship of intertidal fisheries and the differentials between marine and terrestrial planning all require examination and clarification.
Marine planning policy guidance needs to reflect the fact that between 6 - 12 Nautical miles , only EU states with historic fishing rights have access to Scottish waters and these rights relate to pelagic species.
Marine measures such as sea area closures are often managed at EU level or through the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. National measures may be put in place by Scottish Ministers, but outside the 6 Nm zone, other EU member states are not obliged to observe these closures."

7.16 Respondents in the fisheries sector also requested that mobile and static gear should be referred to separately in terms of the species being fished. There were also some concerns from these respondents that Regional Marine Planners do not have enough experience for fisheries management and that fisheries management should remain a national issue rather than regional.

7.17 There were also comments from a small number of respondents over concerns that sea anglers do not currently have a limit on their catch.

7.18 There were also suggestions that Inshore Fisheries Groups ( IFGs) are ideally placed to provide local management expertise and experience, albeit they will need the resources to take on this role. That said, an organisation in the environment/ conservation sector noted concerns about IFGs and suggested the English Associations of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities ( IFCAs) are a better model to follow. They also commented that IFG management plans lack a commitment to Marine Strategy Framework Directive descriptions and High Level Marine Objectives. Two fisheries organisations noted their support for the Marine Management Organisation that operates in England and suggested a similar organisation should be set up in Scotland.

7.19 A number of issues were suggested for inclusion in the NMP. These included that the NMP:

  • Should address issue of displacement activity by seeking to reduce unsustainable fishing effort and managing waters as a whole;
  • Should recognise the mixed fishing character of the Scottish Fishing industry;
  • Should recognise that planning has a role in securing confidence in the industry;
  • Should address the provision of facilities to process/ dispose of unwanted catch where a local market does not exist for their sale;
  • Should recognise difficulties of achieving Maximum Sustainable Yield in a mixed fishery;
  • Should note the possibility of increased fishing effort in sheltered inshore areas as result of offshore vessels moving inshore;
  • Should recognise that fishermen require spatial flexibility to be able to respond to the impacts of climate change on the distribution of stocks;
  • Should tackle the fishing industry's poor record on health and safety;
  • Makes no reference to the identification of possible Fisheries Dependent Regions and should do so;
  • Should ensure initiatives like the Marine Protected Areas project do not disproportionately impact on the fishing industry;
  • Needs greater focus on the future management of fisheries within the context of ecosystem based management and marine planning;
  • Should include objectives and policies focused on the consequences of climate change, and the need to mitigate and adapt to the changing environment;
  • Should give consideration to the Scottish fishing fleet and whether it is of sustainable size relative to current and future projected fishing opportunities.

7.20 Two energy companies requested that policy statements regarding beneficial co-existence should be avoided and each case examined on an individual basis; a Local Authority assumed that marine sector developers will be obliged to pay reparation or compensation to adversely affected fishing interests. There were also requests from a small number of respondents to ensure that all relevant stakeholders will be included in any future discussions on the fishing sector.

7.21 Two respondents within the fisheries sector requested that an independent review of the NMP is conducted.

Alternative policies

7.22 Question 13 then asked,

Question 13: Are there alternative planning policies that you think should be included in this chapter?

7.23 Only a small number of respondents made suggestions for any alternative planning policies to be included in this chapter.

  • Marine Scotland should develop policy to continue engagement and data gathering of fisheries activities. They should indicate the levels of early support for any prospective new development, identifying the relevant interests to ensure that all levels of activity are covered and impacts minimised from an early stage.
  • There should be policies that provide Marine Planning Partnerships with stronger direction on matters relating to (a) designated sites, particularly Natura sites and new MPAs; (b) protected species; (c) wider biodiversity interests and an ecosystem-approach, including habitats with functional value for fisheries productivity ( e.g. maerl, burrowed mud, etc); and (d) the use of spatial measures in fisheries management. In relation to these matters, emphasis should be placed on the pursuit of win-wins for fisheries and biodiversity/ecosystem function, particularly in the long-term;
  • A general principle of electronic vessel monitoring for all vessels in the fishing fleet;
  • A policy that reflects Objective 5;
  • Policies that will support the development of regional marine plans with spatial management measures which deliver sustainable inshore fisheries by: ensuring that fleet capacity - both the size and the nature of the fleet - matches available fishing resources and opportunities; protecting vulnerable stocks, in particular juvenile and spawning stocks; protecting MPA features from impacts of fishing gears; halting by-catch of non-target fish and other marine wildlife including seabirds; improving compliance with and enforcement of fisheries regulation; helping deliver Scotland's many international commitments including MSFD and EU environmental directives and sustainable development;
  • A policy that ensures participative management including environmental and wider community stakeholders, not just fishing interests;
  • A policy that ensures Inshore Fisheries Groups, with support from their Advisory Groups, have a central role in taking forward fisheries planning within regional plans;
  • An extension should be introduced to ensure that fishermen work with stakeholders concerned with the marine historic environment to ensure that the marine historic environment is properly managed and protected;
  • Ecosystem-based management should be specifically mentioned as a planning policy and with reference to the ecosystem based management approaches that are being developed.