The Scottish Government's consultation on the use of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) for certain types of fishing vessels (or 'fleet segments') operating in Scottish waters ran from 15 March to 7 June 2022. The consultation sought views on the following:
- The general principles of REM and stakeholder views on those principles as they will apply across fleet segments - not just to those fleet segments consulted on at this stage.
- Formal consultation on mandatory REM requirements in the:
- Pelagic sector. The consultation outlined that this requirement is being implemented following the consultation, but views were sought on aspects of the policy.
- Scallop dredge sector. The consultation outlined that this requirement is being implemented following the consultation, but views were sought on aspects of the policy.
- Initial views regarding REM in the demersal sector, defined as mobile vessels with an overall length of 12 metres and over – specifically, large whitefish and mixed fishery vessels fishing in Scottish waters. The aim was not to formally consult on the implementation of REM for this sector, but to seek initial views from stakeholders on a range of options.
An external consultancy firm, Diffley Partnership, were appointed by the Scottish Government to undertake a detailed analysis of the consultation responses. A total of 48 valid responses were received to the consultation, with a mixture of respondents between individuals and organisations, and between environmental/conservation groups and fisheries organisations.
A report detailing this analysis has been published and can be found at Analysis of Consultation: Marine Resources – Ensuring Long Term Sustainability: (REM). Following the analysis, the Scottish Government has considered the feedback received from stakeholders as part of the next stage of the policy development process. In addition, work has been undertaken within the Scottish Government, using the consultation feedback, to help further develop the REM system specifications, data pathway, operational plans and draft legislation. This work has involved experts from within the Scottish Government, particularly those with a compliance and science interest. Discussions have also taken place with other fisheries administrations in the UK regarding implementation of REM. Other Coastal State administrations have been notified of the development of our Scottish plans and their impact on non-Scottish vessels fishing in Scottish waters as the legislation will be applied on a 'level playing field' basis in relation to all relevant vessels fishing in Scottish waters, regardless of nationality.
This document sets out the Scottish Government response to each of the questions asked within the consultation, along with next steps. On a general level, in relation to the key aspects consulted on, we can confirm the following:
1) That legislation relating to the mandatory introduction of REM to all scallop dredge and pelagic vessels (including freezer vessels) fishing in Scottish waters and to all Scottish scallop dredge and pelagic vessels fishing outwith Scottish waters, will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in 2023.
2) That further work will be undertaken to scope options for the wider use of REM in other fleet segments (specifically vessels in the demersal fleet with an overall length of 12 metres or more) but that this will be considered in conjunction with the development of the Scottish Government's Future Catching Policy (which has been subject to a separate but related consultation).
3) That we will seek to apply general principles to our use of REM in order to deliver a consistent approach to the use of REM in different fleet segments where possible. This particularly applies to the principle of a level playing field for relevant fishing activity in Scottish waters, with rules applying consistently to both Scottish and non-Scottish vessels within a relevant fleet segment when operating in Scottish waters.
For next steps, our immediate focus will be on the drafting of legislation for the Scottish Parliament to consider. This will deliver a requirement for mandatory REM for scallop dredge vessels which, will come into force following the successful completion of the parliamentary process. The final entry into force date of this REM requirement for scallop dredge vessels will be confirmed once the legislation is laid before the Scottish Parliament. This legislation will also deliver mandatory REM for pelagic vessels. Unlike scallop REM, which has been used on board some fishing vessels in Scotland since 2017, pelagic REM is a relatively new concept which has not been used on any significant scale by pelagic vessels previously. With this in mind, the pelagic legislative requirement will not take effect immediately, but will instead have a 24 month commencement period to enable an appropriate amount of time for vessels to source and install the required technology. Significant work will be needed in partnership with both the domestic and international fishing industries impacted as they prepare for the implementation of REM. This will include the production of guidance.
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