Hannah Fennel, Head of the Orkney Fisheries Association has criticised the Scottish Government’s decision to introduce new measures on the Seasonal Clyde Cod Spawning Closure, which will see creel boats, nephrop trawlers and scallop dredgers being excluded from fishing in the conservation area for a period of 11 weeks from 14 February.
On a Twitter thread Ms Fennel laid out her reasons for criticising the closure. She tweeted:
“The Seasonal Clyde Cod Spawning Closure is bad for conservation. Here’s why:
“The Seasonal Clyde Cod Spawning Closure (SCCSC) is a measure designed to protect spawning cod in the Firth of Clyde and has been in place for the past 20 years. When cod spawn, they are territorial and don’t want to leave their mating area for anything.
“This makes them easier to catch (purposefully or accidentally). The SCCSC limited the types of fishing that could be carried out in the Clyde- allowing only Nephrops trawlers, creels and scallop dredgers, due to the low amount of cod that they catch.
“These restrictions were supposed to protect spawning fish and improve the cod stock overall.”
“Marine Scotland made the decision to remove the exemptions of the SCCSC, saying that the stocks weren’t showing adequate recovery. Now NO fishing can be carried out during the spawning season.
“The problem is that this is a hard U-turn from their pre-Christmas stance, and their decision has been made with no consultation with the industry and nearly no advanced warning. For 11 weeks (14th Feb-30th April) an important fishing ground will be closed.
“While this drastic measure may help replenish the cod stocks, it does a lot of damage. Not only to the many fishers who rely on those grounds for their (low-impact) livelihoods, but to future conservation efforts.
“Co-management is the gold standard for conservation and marine & fisheries management, and it requires trust. Working together through consultations, discussions, &data-sharing builds this trust & generates value, empowers stakeholders, & improves the likelihood of success.
“Trust is hard-won, and easily lost. By this surprise announcement Marine Scotland jeopardises not only their relationship with the fishing industry, but also the success of future management and conservation efforts.”
Kenneth Coull who has 40 years in Marine Science fisheries data collection including operations manager, scientific diver and RV cruise leader agreed with Ms Fennel saying, “I have worked hard to reassure our fishermen that restrictions will only be imposed where evidence supports such action. This development shows that fishermen were quite right to tell me that Scottish Government can’t be trusted and will backflip for a vote.
“These measures demonstrate that MS (Marine Scotland) no longer control their own business/work plan for Nature Conservation and may as well hand over office keys to NGOs. Extensive observer sampling over 383 trips demonstrate that cod bycatch in Nephrop Trawl fishery is 0.43%.”