Sea fishing - Firth of Clyde seasonal closures: Operation Galene

Operation plan detailing how Marine Scotland will monitor and ensure compliance with The Sea Fish (Prohibition On Fishing) (Firth Of Clyde) (No. 2) Order 2022.

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.

A number of creel fishers contacted Marine Scotland to state that due to the prolonged poor weather proceeding 14 February 2022, they had not been able to recover creels from inside the closed areas. They requested an opportunity to recover the gear after the closure. Procedures have been put in place to accommodate this request which ensures limited disturbance to the seabed. These include a close monitoring program and a requirement that no gear is redeployed inside the closed areas.

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 2022. Marine Scotland will continue to enforce these restrictions.

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 2022, 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 2022 Order by the razor fleet.

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