The MMO is seeking views on a proposal to close the king scallop fishery on the south coast
The Marine Management Organisation (MMO), acting on behalf of all four UK Fisheries Administrations (UKFAs), is seeking views on a proposal to close the ICES area VIId king scallop (Pectens maximus) fishery between mid-August and mid-October 2021 to vessels of all lengths.
UK Fisheries Administrations are committed to ensuring fisheries are managed to a level where stocks are healthy and fished sustainably, environmental damage is minimised, and economic return is maximised whilst ensuring sustainable exploitation.
Over the last four years, Cefas have undertaken king scallop dredge surveys in the English Channel (Northern parts of Area 27.7d, and also 27.7e) to assess the biomass available to the dredge fishery and whether current fishing levels are considered sustainable. The data provided by the stock assessments indicate that Area VIId stocks and some stocks in VIIe (ICES Rectangles 29E6, 29E7, 30E6, 30E7) have in recent years been exploited at a rate higher than that associated with Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY).
A closure of area of VIId to scallop dredging between mid-August and mid-October 2021 would give protection to animals during part of their spawning season and should safeguard some spawning potential. Measures to safeguard spawning potential are particularly crucial when exploitation levels are close to or above the MSY estimates.
The closure would therefore apply to all vessels. The benefits of this closure in terms of stock protection are largely associated with reducing fishing pressure on stocks during the spawning season, which occurs between May – October, allowing the remaining stock a chance to spawn as well as increasing protection for juvenile scallops to grow to spawning size/ Minimum Landing Size before encountering scallop gear.
Stock assessments for 2017-2019 indicate harvest rates above the level associated with Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), suggesting stocks have a pattern of overexploitation. The assessments for 2020 have a provisional harvest rate estimate just below the MSY rate (21.4 vs 21.5). However, this may be subject to change once full international landings data become available and the rate is therefore quite uncertain currently.
“This strengthens the need for appropriate management to be increased to ensure scallop stocks are protected and the fisheries managed sustainably,” states the proposal.
A proposal to close ICES Area VIId to scallop dredging has also been received from the Scallop Industry Consultation Group (SICG).
Following scientific advice UKFAs wish to explore the option of a closure to all vessels regardless of length.
This consultation will run from 26 July 2021 to 8 August 2021 and is on behalf of the four UKFAs.
See full proposal here.