Key enforcement requirements and potential risks
The key enforcement requirements are:
- remotely monitor activity in the Firth of Clyde including the new closed areas, utilising satellite tracking (VMS) for vessels >12m and the Automatic Identification System (AIS)
- using our marine assets, monitor and inspect fishing vessels of any size and type inside the closed areas, and take appropriate enforcement action
- gather intelligence on catches of cod and discarding in the areas of the Firth of Clyde which are adjacent to the closed areas
Specifically officers will inspect fishing vessels to record any catches of cod by number and size after hauling and prior to the sorting of the catch. Recording the size of any cod present is important as it will indicate whether the cod in question was likely to have been mature enough to actually spawn (as a rule of thumb, a 40cm cod likely to be mature enough to spawn).
The following are potential issues and risks created by the closures:
creels inside the closed areas
Whilst creel fishing is prohibited in the closures during the closure periods, provided that all creels are left open and unbaited and are not otherwise used for any fishing activity, they may be left in situ on the seabed during the period of the closure. Alternatively they may be lifted and relocated for the duration of the closure period. Creel fishers may want to keep creels in the closed areas in order to maintain ground for when the closure ends. We will monitor fishing vessels to deter any fishing in the closed areas, and encourage creel fishers not to disturb the seabed by moving open and unbaited creels during the spawning period.
At this time It is not considered necessary to implement procedures to assist creel fishers with gear left in the restricted areas (procedures were in place in 2022 due to a number of fishers not being able to retrieve gear due to a prolonged period of poor weather).
the South of Arran Marine Conservation Order
The South Arran Marine Conservation Order 2015 imposes separate restrictions on activities within part of the closure areas (specifically part of the area referred to in article 3(2) and described in Part 1 of the schedule to the Sea Fish (Prohibition on Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) (No. 2) Order 2024. Marine Directorate Operations will continue to enforce these restrictions.
Ballantrae Banks seasonal closure
There is a seasonal closure under the Inshore Fishing (Prohibition of Fishing and Fishing Methods) (Scotland) Order 2004, which also impinges upon part of the closure areas (specifically part of the area referred to in article 3(3) and described in Part 2 of the schedule to the Sea Fish (Prohibition on Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) Order 2024. This closure is in force at the same time as the closure provided for The Sea Fish (Prohibition on Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) Order 2024. A small section of this closure impinges in the new open areas however any issues are considered very low risk given the lack of reported incursions.
cod catches in areas not subject to closure
It is expected that little cod will be caught in the areas no longer subject to closure, where the ground is muddy and less likely to be used for spawning. Catches will have to be monitored to gather intelligence and ensure compliance with the landing obligation for this species.
razor clam trial - The Razor Clams (Prohibition on Fishing and Landing) (Scotland) Order 2017
razor trial area 9 falls within part of the area referred to in article 3(3) and described in Part 2 of the schedule to the Sea Fish (Prohibition on Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) (No. 2) Order 2024, and effectively restricts any fishing by vessels for razor clams in that area. This area may be included in tasking to ensure compliance with the 2024 Order by the razor fleet.
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