Publication - Progress report

Electrofishing for razor clams trial: update report - 1 February 2020 to 31 January 2021

Published: 15 Nov 2021
Mairi Gougeon MSP
Marine Scotland Directorate
Part of:
Marine and fisheries

An update report on the Electrofishing for Razor Clams Trial from 1 February 2020 to 31 January 2021.

Electrofishing for razor clams trial: update report - 1 February 2020 to 31 January 2021
Other work Streams

Other work Streams

Prior to this trial commencing, HSE carried out a literature research project into the safety of divers when using the electrofishing technique. HSE now have additional information about the generating equipment and power output being used to energise the electrodes on the seabed. Due to this, an application for further research to be carried out by HSE has been approved and will be completed in due course. Those taking part in the trial will be advised of the research and the possibility of their voluntary involvement in the project and the result of this research will be shared with all partners. HSE are also currently reviewing guidance around diving for shellfish and two periods of consultation have been completed with comments and views from those involved in this sector have been considered. A new revision will be in publication in due course.

Survey work in the Firth of Forth was conducted in March 2020 but was only partially completed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our intention is therefore to conclude this survey when an opportunity arises in order to deliver a robust stock assessment from the required data gathered to inform biological and fisheries data on this species. The report is available; and MS's intention is to conclude the survey when there is an opportunity. A paper on the survey methodology developed by SAMS and MS Science was previously accepted for publication in the Journal Fisheries Research (Fox et al. 2019).

SAMS, with support from MSS, have been successful in securing Natural Environment Research Council funding for a PhD studentship to study the organism and ecological impacts of electrofishing in Scottish shallow coastal habitats. The student started in October 2020 and has been undertaking a literature review. Next steps are to estimate the growth rates (by aging razor shells) and set up tank experiments to investigate the long-term impacts of exposure to electrical fishing apparatus on razors, as well as other benthic species. This work was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic and working from home regulations.

MSS have previously provided razor clam tissue samples for genomic analysis in a study of population connectivity. This is part of a PhD project at the University of the Highlands and Islands which aims to elucidate relationships between razor clam stocks and determine source, sink and self-recruiting populations.