Marine Scotland (MS) Compliance : Inspections and Monitoring
MS Compliance continued to employ a risk based approach to the inspection of vessels participating in the trial and deployed land and sea based resources to monitor these vessels. During most of the 2020-2021 trial year, compliance officers were working within Covid-19 restrictions which reduced their operational capability.
Despite the restrictions in place 30 inspections were carried out both by inspectors on land and at sea where compliance was found to be good. In relation to daily landed catch limits, with a total of twenty weight checks undertaken at landing ports with no infringements found. Post landing checks by the FDF unit and coastal offices identified 25 minor breaches of terms and conditions of the trial and were dealt with by way of an advisory letter.
As per the trial terms and conditions, the owner of each vessel participating in the trial is entirely responsible for the purchase, installation and maintenance costs of all fishing apparatus, generating gear, and monitoring equipment specified by Marine Scotland as necessary to participate in the trial. This includes a bespoke Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) device which is proving a highly valuable tool for both scientific data collection purposes and compliance management.
From a compliance perspective, the REM data is received at MS's Fully Documented Fishery Unit, where it is analysed and verified for compliance. During 2020-2021 there were in excess of 1400 voyages analysed. Compliance with the requirements of the trial's Terms and Conditions was found to be high. All MS coastal offices and the Marine Protection Vessel fleet have access to live positional data of the vessels to aid inspections (subject to the 3G coverage in a vessel's area of operation).
The tracking equipment has shown to be extremely reliable. The inbuilt system tools ensure that time spent on analysis is efficient. The analysis software can incorporate layers which identify the delineated razor clam trial areas and also FSS classified waters, generating automatic alerts to compliance officers should fishing activity occur out with these areas. A robust reporting process now exists between FSS and MS Compliance to deal with any suspected incidences of fishing out with classified areas.
The technical realignment of FSS shapefiles that was created at the end of the last reporting period to take account of the mismatch has much reduced these referrals. Through discussions between FSS, MS, the REM providers and representatives of the SRCA a process has been established whereby these realigned shapefiles are now automatically uploaded onto the chosen REM platform of the fishermen, rather than requiring to be entered manually on the vessels' standalone fishing plotters.