Isle of Man plans to develop a thriving scallop fishery for future generations

According to reports from NI fishing boats, Northeast Atlantic Bluefin tuna were spotted feeding in Manx territorial waters this week

A plan that will see fishermen, producers and marine scientists co-manage the Isle of Man’s multi-million-pound king scallop fishery will be a first for the British Isles. 

The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture’s Long-Term Management Plan (LTMP) aims to deliver a thriving fishery, which is both sustainable and prosperous. 

It sets a series of long-term goals, which take into account the environmental and economic (Bioeconomic) impacts and will build on current rules, such as catch limits. 

In the short-term, it will address critical challenges facing the fishery through a capacity reduction programme, the termination of legacy access rights for high powered ‘offshore’ vessels and increased research into a number of key areas in partnership with industry. 

Other objectives will see the department explore the feasibility of low-impact harvesting methods, such as diver-caught scallops, and ways to reduce the fleet’s carbon emissions. 

Manx King and Queen Scallops both received improved sustainability ratings in the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide last month and it is hoped the new plan will set the course for further improvements. 

The Scallop Management Board (SMB), which represents the industry, called for the new strategic approach and has been instrumental in its development alongside DEFA and marine scientists from Bangor University, who undertake annual Manx scallop surveys. 

Dr David Beard of the SMB, said: 

“The key to any sustainable and successful fishery is to take into account the scallop population, the fishing impact on the marine environment and the socio-economic aspects of the fishing community that depends on it. This can only be achieved by matching the fishing effort to the available resource, which this strategic long-term management plan can help to deliver. It is essential.”

The prized molluscs are one of the key catches in the Island’s fishing industry which, prior to the pandemic, supported around 300 jobs and was worth about £20m a year. 

However, in recent years the industry has been faced with export challenges and difficult market conditions caused by Brexit and the pandemic. 

Dr Michelle Haywood MHK, Political Member with responsibility for Fisheries in the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: 

“This is a great example of collaboration, which aims to ensure the long-term environmental, economic, and social sustainability of the fishery and ensure generations to come will enjoy this delicious Manx dish.”

The plan has been unveiled after it received strong support during a consultation and work has already started on a number of measures ahead of the new season in November. 

Source: Press Release 

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Isle of Man plans to develop a thriving scallop fishery for future generations 

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