Further restrictions to the queen scallop fishing quota will be introduced in Isle of Man territorial sea for the 2019 fishing season.
A recent stock assessment carried out by Bangor University, scientific advisors to the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), highlighted that queen scallop stocks have decreased and is at the lowest level since 1993.
To ensure the sustainability of the scallops and allow time for over exhausted ground to recover restrictions will be implemented to reduce the total allowable catch (TAC) by 40% to 476 tonnes from the 1 July. This is made up of a 20% reduction to the current TAC plus a further 20% reduction under emergency provisions.
A review of the reduced TAC will be undertaken four weeks after the beginning of the fishing season.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:
‘The additional measures for this year’s fishing season have been implemented to ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry and to provide the best possibility of queen scallop fishing over the coming years.
‘These restrictions will allow for the fishing of some queen scallops to still take place this year whilst also allowing time for fishers to diversify. The approach over the past several years hasn’t been enough to ensure the sustainability of our queen scallops. There is a very real possibility that there will be no queen scallop fishing next year.
‘DEFA has accommodated both trawl fishery and dredge vessels as part of this decision. A weekly catch limit for the trawl fishery has been set and an individual quota applied for dredge vessels. This is in line with previous requests. It is important to remember that we cannot discriminate on grounds of nationality as part of the Fishing Management Agreement.'
A weekend ban on queen scallop fishing will also remain in place this season and the area at Chickens will also operate a closed zone to protect stock levels in the area.
DEFA, the Scallop Management Board and the Manx Fish Producers’ Organisation will continue to closely monitor the situation and remain in close dialogue.
The Isle of Man Government offers financial assistance to assist with areas such as diversification under the Agriculture and Fisheries Grant Scheme, further information on this scheme can be found here.
Further information will be provided to the fishing industry at the Annual Manx Fishing Industry Conference which takes place today (Monday 24 June).