The Isle of Man is among fisheries administrations conducting a public consultation on future management measures for the queen scallop fishery outside Manx territorial waters.
The consultation covers the fisheries off the north coast of Northern Ireland, the west of Scotland and other parts of the Irish Sea.
It is being led by Marine Scotland on behalf of the five UK and Isle of Man fisheries administrations, following concerns about increasing numbers of boats and higher catches, but strong indications of overall stock decline.
A working group, including representatives from the queen scallop fishing sector, UK and Isle of Man fisheries managers and fisheries scientists, was formed to assess the status of the fishery and propose new management measures.
The consultation is seeking views on:
- Increasing the minimum landing size of queen scallops
- Introducing a closed season for the fishery
- Introducing limits on the number of vessels able to fish.
The consultation is also seeking views on measures that may be introduced in the longer term, including:
- Restricting the time that vessels can fish
- Introducing catch quotas
- Introducing closed areas
- Specifying what gear can be used.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:
‘Queen scallops make a valuable contribution to the Manx economy and it’s important we safeguard the long-term sustainability of this fishery.
‘The Isle of Man has long compiled scientific information on queen scallop stocks within its territorial sea and, following the major stock declines in this fishery in recent years, strong management measures have been introduced, including closing off areas to allow stocks to recover and setting a total annual permitted catch.
‘However, what happens in close proximity to us, but outside our waters, of course affects how our stocks recover and how our waters are fished, so we join our neighbouring jurisdictions – with whom we work closely – in consulting over the way forward.’
This consultation can be viewed at www.gov.im/categories/business-and-industries/commercial-fishing/ and runs until 3 January 2017.