The Isle of Man Government has announced that it will be varying the conditions of its licence for vessels fishing for king scallops in its territorial waters.
From 15 January 2018 all vessels licenced to fish for king scallops in Manx waters will be required to report daily at an Isle of Man port for catch inspection. Visiting vessels have the option of not reporting, provided any fishing activity within any one fishing trip is confined to Manx waters.
The change to the licence comes after concerns were raised regarding the accuracy of catch reporting. The changes were delayed by one week to allow further negotiations with Scottish Government.
Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, Geoffrey Boot, MHK said: ‘The Isle of Man is committed to preventing the decline of its king scallop stock – and it will take all appropriate action to ensure that reporting of catches is accurate. We have made the decision to strengthen our enforcement as it was clear that underreporting was going on.
‘We are currently investigating a number of cases and expect to suspend the Fishing Licence of any skipper who is suspected of underreporting their catch. We will continue to monitor the stock levels in close liaison with the Scallop Management Board and will not hesitate to prosecute any breach of the rules in place to protect our stocks.
‘I would like to thank Marine Scotland for its cooperation and support over the past week. We have noted the concerns that were raised by Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing and have modified arrangements so that vessels can return to their home ports – the catch will be reported electronically. We will not tolerate damaging the future sustainability of our fishing grounds and believe that the steps we have taken will help protect them.’
The king scallop industry is worth £12 million to the Island’s economy. It is in the interest of all who fish Manx waters, and rely on them for an income, to ensure the long term sustainability of king scallop stocks.