Scotland will prohibit the fishing of sandeel ahead of the 2024 season, pending cabinet approval states Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon. Photo: Marine Directorate
Fishing for sandeel in Scottish waters is set to be banned ahead of the 2024 fishery season, pending Parliamentary approval.
The Scottish government states that this decision is grounded in the recognition of the crucial role sandeels play in maintaining the long-term sustainability and resilience of the marine ecosystem. The small fish species serves as a vital food source for various marine life, including marine mammals, seabirds, and predatory fish.
Currently, commercial sandeel fishing is exclusively carried out by European vessels. Acknowledging the significance of sandeels in marine biodiversity, no fishing quota has been allocated to UK vessels since 2021.
Mairi Gougeon, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform, and Islands, emphasised the importance of managing the marine environment responsibly. She stated, “Sandeel are a vital part of our marine ecosystem and a critical component of the food chain in the North Atlantic. It is critical that we manage our marine environment in such a way as to ensure its sustainable use, protecting biodiversity and ensuring healthy functioning ecosystems.”
The proposed ban aims to provide long-term sustainability, benefiting not only sandeels but also contributing to the well-being of seabirds, marine mammals, and other fish species. The decision aligns with the overwhelming support received during the public consultation on the matter in 2023, where 97% of respondents expressed their approval for the preferred option.
In a parallel move, the UK Government has signalled its intention to close Area 4 of the North Sea in English waters for sandeel fishing, reinforcing the joint commitment to marine conservation efforts.