Isle of Man king scallop fishery


Isle of Man Species Specific Licences (SSL) are non-transferable, nor saleable, and return to the Department on the disposal or loss of the vessel.  Administration of the licences is provided for by the Isle of Man Species Specific Licence Policy, which is available online

The Department, having considered a recommendation from the Scallop Management Board in June 2021, has taken the decision to temporarily defer decisions relating to the re-issuing of King Scallop SSLs to new vessel owners, except in circumstances where such change in ownership transactions are already in progress, and/or the Department has been made aware of specific intentions to arrange a change in ownership, with effect from 21st June 2021.

This decision has been taken in the light of discussions by the Scallop Management Board in relation to fleet capacity management, and the recent introduction of support schemes in other jurisdictions which may significantly influence the market for vessels with SSL to fish in Manx waters.

This temporary deferment on issuing King Scallop SSLs to new owners will remain in effect until further notice, subject to long-term considerations on managing access to the king scallop fishery within Manx waters.

2020 SCE Season & COVID-19

Visiting Scallop fishing vessels must follow the procedures for landing scallop catch set out by DOI Harbours. Breach of Isle of Man Coronavirus Regulations can result in 3 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £10,000. 

The IOM king scallop season commences annually on 1 November and runs until 31 May.

King Scallop Uptake report Week 32

The new measures for the Isle of Man king scallop fishery

0-3 Nautical Miles (NM)

The inshore area of the Manx territorial sea supports important marine conservation features, recreational activities and several commercial fisheries. These often-competing activities may benefit from spatial separation, allowing specific management measures to be applied and greater overall benefits to be realised. A zoned management approach is commonly used in such situations. Specifically, a number of important conservation features could be protected from mobile fishing gear, while better management of different fishing types could avoid gear conflicts. It is also recognised that recent increases in scallop fishing effort within 3 nautical miles has caused problems for other interests, including commercial fishery nursery areas, and evidence indicates that inshore scallop catches have begun to decline.

To address all of these issues it is considered necessary to reduce and manage scallop fishing effort better, and provide mechanisms for long-term management of conservation, recreation and different commercial fishing activities. Such an approach is consistent with meeting the sustainable fishing and conservation objectives of DEFA’s ‘Future Fisheries’ strategy.

Consultation Process:
A public consultation process was undertaken (7 April – 19 May 2016) seeking views on; introducing a marine zoning plan for the 0-3 NM, management of mobile-gear fishing effort within the 0-3 NM, potential zoning models and the designation of a marine nature reserve (MNR) to enable coordinated management of conservation and fisheries. Links to the consultation document and the consultation summary can be found at/

The consultation provided strong support for a zoned management approach, a reduction of mobile-gear effort within 3 NM and the introduction of a MNR. A zoned model which recognised current commercial fishing interests was preferred to one that simplified separation of activities. As a result the Isle of Man Government approved the development of an inshore zoned model incorporating a marine nature reserve, within which two primary zone types will be included; ‘Conservation’ and ‘Fisheries Management’.

This zoned approach is expected to be phased in, with conservation zones and restricted mobile-gear fishing access being introduced for the 1st November 2016. Restricted access to commercial king scallop fishing will be based on a track-record system, using VMS data and electronic log-book data over the period 2010–2016, and applying combined criteria of; years fishing in 0-3, days fishing in 0-3, fishery landings attributed to 0-3 and ‘economic link’ (proportion of landings to Manx ports versus non-Manx ports).

From 1 November 2016 fishing within 3 NM will be restricted to eligible vessels. Fishing within the conservation zones will be restricted to the activities authorised by the licence. Additional specific protective management measures will be developed in future.

3-12 Nautical Miles (NM)

In recent years DEFA has introduced various management measures within the territorial sea to protect scallop stocks and encourage sustainable fisheries, whilst protecting important marine species and habitats. However, it has become clear that more work is required to safeguard the future sustainability of this valuable fishery.

There is strong evidence to indicate that the Isle of Man king scallop fishery has expanded significantly, with year-on-year increases in vessel numbers and landings and a corresponding decrease in landings per unit effort (LPUE).

Consultation Process:
Due to these concerns, a consultation on proposals for the future management of the king scallop fishery was launched in July 2016 (/ . The proposed management measures aim to reduce the latent capacity within the fleet, reduce current effort levels and ensure the long-term sustainability of the stock.

Responses to the consultation indicated considerable support for a reduction in fishing vessel numbers by means of entry restrictions based on track record and number of days fished; there was clear support for an early reference period and a high number of track record days, whilst acknowledging the need for the protection of vessels that have demonstrated commitment to, and dependence on the fishery. 

In attempting to balance the biological requirements of the stock with the socio-economic impact, whilst also taking into account the detailed consultation feedback, various combinations of different reference periods and track records were examined to identify a balanced and effective solution.

To best accommodate all interests, a four-year reference period comprising the Isle of Man king scallop fishing seasons 2011/12 to 2014/15 has been selected, combined with:

  • For <15m LOA vessels, a minimum of 50 days fishing in ICES rectangles 36, 37 & 38 E5;
  • For >15m LOA vessels, a minimum of 26 days fishing in ICES rectangles 36, 37 & 38 E5

(acknowledging that the number of days at sea was restricted for vessels >15m under Western Waters Effort Regime)

Future management measures:
A stock assessment for king scallops within Isle of Man waters remains under development to improve knowledge of stock levels. The Department will consider the stock assessment outcome, when available, and reserves the right to introduce further management measures should there be a need. Similarly, should it be apparent that the stock can sustain additional effort, the Department will consider the release of additional licences, using documented criteria.