The Isle of Man government has announced increased safety measures ahead of the King Scallop Season
Safety and security measures are to be stepped up at harbours ahead of the King Scallop season which gets under way on 1 November.
Around 80 crews from the Isle of Man, Scotland and Northern Ireland are licensed to fish in Manx waters during the seven month season – but not all are expected to do so.
Fishermen are attracted by a catch rate that is considerably higher than neighbouring fisheries making the Island’s waters a popular choice.
However, with many travelling from areas where COVID-19 restrictions are in place and the Island’s ongoing border restrictions, the way harbours are managed will change.
To keep local and visiting crews from mixing they will be asked to use separate and secure designated areas when berthing in Douglas or Peel – with a one in, one out, system for landing catch. Visiting crews will only be allowed to use these two harbours.
Local seafood processors will work with skippers to coordinate collections and only locally based crews will be allowed to use Ramsey and Port St Mary harbours this season.
The scallop season is important to local processors who rely on additional landings from UK vessels.
Visiting fishermen will be allowed to tie up their boat but must not disembark for any other reason. Isle of Man crews already follow this procedure when using UK ports.
Security services will monitor Peel and Douglas harbours around the clock and anyone breaking the rules could face a £10,000 fine or up to three months in prison.
The added security means Peel breakwater will be closed to the public until 31 May. Fencing will go up beyond the kiosk at 8am on Friday to create a secure area, but this will not affect the town’s firework display.
All licensed crews have been informed of the changes that follow consultation with the industry and public health.
Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK, said:
“The Isle of Man is currently COVID free with no active cases in the community. These measures are being introduced to allow all crews and processors to use harbour areas in a safe way.”
The seafood industry is worth £20m a year to the Manx economy and directly employs around 300 people in full-time or seasonal roles on the Island.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for the Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:
“We are well aware of the pressure the industry is under this year and these measures are designed to help fishermen and processors to do their job safely. We hope it will help to avoid the potential for significant disruption at ports due to added enforcement and logistical issues caused by the ongoing pandemic.”
A Total Allowable Catch of 2049 tonnes of king scallops has been set for the season, which runs from 1 November 2020 to 31 May 2021, with a daily catch limit per vessel set at 700kg. This will be monitored and reviewed regularly following the latest market conditions.
The Barrule Patrol vessel has been cleared to board local and visiting vessels with strict cleaning procedures in place between inspections.