Sandeel fishing - closure proposals: strategic environmental assessment - post adoption statement

Post adoption statement setting out for the findings of the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and consultation responses informed The Sandeel (Prohibition Of Fishing) (Scotland) Order 2024 as adopted.

1. Background

Scottish seas support diverse and abundant marine habitats and species. Sandeel form a particularly important component of the North Sea ecosystem and foodweb, as a key link between plankton and top predators such as commercial fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. As an island nation, Scotland's seas have an important role to play in underpinning our economic prosperity and supporting our wellbeing.

The Scottish Government has national and international commitments to protect marine biodiversity, and to take necessary measures to protect and conserve the marine ecosystem. The Scottish Government is also committed to the sustainable management of fisheries, which includes taking account of the protection of biodiversity and healthy functioning ecosystems. Managing fishing for sandeel in Scottish waters, with the aim of benefiting both sandeel stocks and the wider ecosystem, is an integral part of ensuring sustainable fisheries.

On 21 July 2023 the Scottish Government issued a public consultation seeking views on proposals to close fishing for sandeel in all Scottish waters, with the purpose of bringing about wider environmental and ecosystem benefits, which include potential benefits to sandeel, seabirds, marine mammals, and other fish species[1].

Following consideration of all responses and representations received, the Scottish Government concluded that the preferred option to close fishing for sandeel in all Scottish waters is the most appropriate approach to achieve its aims, noting that the potential environmental benefits outweigh any negative impacts.

In reaching this decision, the Scottish Government applied the precautionary principle to its decision making and ensured alignment with national and international commitments, including, but not limited to, the UK-EU TCA, Scotland's National Marine Plan, Scotland's Fisheries Management Strategy, the UK Joint Fisheries Statement, the Fisheries Act 2020 and the Marine Strategy Regulations 2010.

The Sandeel (Prohibition of fishing) (Scotland) Order 2024 came into force on 26 March 2024. The Order covers all Scottish waters and the exclusive economic zone adjacent to Scotland that extends to 200 nautical miles and applies to all vessels fishing in these waters. The Scottish Ministers made this Order in exercise of the powers conferred by section 5(1)(a) of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967.



Back to top