Our commitment to co-management
In Scotland we are fortunate to have a fishing industry that is well represented, with many fishers being members of a fisheries association or other group. We have an established network of offices around the coast of Scotland which provide a direct interaction between Marine Scotland, fishers, and communities. We also benefit from an engaged environmental community, and from members of local communities who take a direct interest in, and benefit from, fishing activity either from the jobs it creates or the food it produces.
Our approach to co-management:
We already have a system of co-management in place for Scotland's fisheries, with Government officials and fisheries stakeholders working in partnership to oversee the management of our fisheries and guide key decisions. Going forward, we want to strengthen these arrangements, with a greater focus on strategic decision making and a shared responsibility for management and delivery whilst respecting the ultimate accountability of Scottish Ministers to the Scottish Parliament and the general public.
We recognise that there are a wide range of groups that are involved in fishing, both directly and indirectly, and want to ensure that we are inclusive in our management approach and our policies. Women play an active role in many parts of the industry although this is not always readily acknowledged. Going forward we will seek to recognise the important role that all parts of society make to the fishing industry, and to promote involvement across all genders and equalities groups in a positive and inclusive way.
We believe that strong and transparent governance arrangements should be in place, to ensure that the right level of engagement takes place and that decisions are taken at the right level. We think there is room to strengthen governance arrangements in some areas, and policy proposals to do this will be taken forward as part of the implementation of this strategy. This will include considering the role that sectoral groups play. It will also see us strengthening the role of the Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) so that they are recognised as the main delivery vehicle for local management, and have the right resources in place to deliver improvements and tackle local issues such as gear conflict and fishing effort. To help support this we will consider strengthening inshore licence conditions.
Not For Navigation. Created by Scottish Government (Marine Scotland) 2015. gj057. © Crown Copyright, All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey License No. 100024655. Projection: Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area. Datum: ETRS 1989. Scale @ A4 1:2,750,000
There are five Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups in Scotland where local fishermen come together to explore local fisheries management initiatives. The network was established in 2016 and succeeded the six Inshore Fisheries Groups that were formerly in place from 2013. The five groups are: North & East Coast, West Coast, Outer Hebrides, Orkney Sustainable Fisheries and Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation.
To support decision making at a national level, we will continue to use our established groups to help guide and support us. For the inshore sector this will primarily be through RIFGs. For wider fisheries interests this will be through our Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (FMAC). These groups have evolved over time to become our key groups supporting strategic and operational decision making and we will seek to build on this role in the future. Where needed, for example, to develop technical and spatial rules, we will use sub-groups to develop ideas and advise on approach.
Membership of co-management groups
FMAC: includes representatives from environmental NGOs, fish producer organisations, fisheries associations, and the active fishing industry, alongside members of Marine Scotland policy, science and compliance functions.
IFMAC: this has a broad range of involvement from across a range of fisheries interests, with open membership of all inshore stakeholders.
Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFG): Established in 2016, RIFGs are non-statutory bodies that aim to improve inshore fisheries. This is achieved by development of localised fisheries management projects and by offering fishers a strong voice in wider marine developments. The RIFG network comprises:
- North and East Coast RIFG
- West Coast RIFG
- Outer Hebrides RIFG
- Orkney Sustainable Fisheries
- Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation
The information we use to make our decisions comes from a variety of sources, for example through the Scottish Government's science division in Marine Scotland, which undertakes fisheries research, key data collected from the fishing industry itself, and a wide range of information and knowledge collected through government compliance and regulatory operations. Using this information within our decision making framework is important, although we recognise that there are some limits to the information we hold and there is an ongoing need to boost our knowledge and the quality of our data in certain areas. Strengthening our knowledge base in order to ground the decisions we take in a solid evidence base, and fully utilising the data and knowledge available at all levels, is a key aim of this strategy.
We also acknowledge the need to strengthen some of the management structures we have in place, particularly in relation to quota, and will use lessons from the trialling of Quota Management Groups to inform future improvements to our quota management functions. To supplement this we will also review the arrangements in place for non-sector vessels and deliver change where needed.