The Scottish government anticipates benefits from a three-nautical mile fishing limit says Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary, Mairi Gougeon MSP. Photo: Clyde Fishermen’s Association
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, Mairi Gougeon says the Scottish government believes that a cap on fishing activities up to three nautical miles would contribute to “a step change in marine protection”.
Replying to a question from Scottish Labour MSP for North East Scotland, Mercedes Villaba’s question:
“To ask the Scottish Government whether it anticipates a cap on fishing activity in inshore waters, up to three nautical miles, limiting activity to current levels, as per the Bute House Agreement, to impact the level of discards, in light of the relevant proposals in the Future Catching Policy.”
Minister Gougeon replied:
“The Scottish Government anticipates that the proposed cap on fishing activity (up to three nautical miles) will contribute to our efforts to deliver a step change in marine protection. We will consult on our proposals to apply an activity cap in due course.
“Earlier this year the Scottish Government published a draft future catching policy for consultation. The policy is intended to address long-running operational issues with the landing obligation, which bans the discarding of fish. The policy seeks to improve upon current rules, whilst staying true to the principles of the landing obligation, to support fishers to reduce waste and delivering sustainable and responsible fisheries management. We received 244 responses to the consultation, covering the full range of policy proposals, and are now undertaking analysis and evaluation.”
Villaba also asked if in light of the Bute House Agreement, whether it plans to update inshore spatial management for Scotland’s inshore fisheries prior to the agreement of regional marine plans or the next National Marine Plan, and outwith the marine planning process.
To which Minister Gougeon replied:
“The Scottish Government deploys a range of spatial and technical measures to manage Scotland’s fisheries. In addition, we have delivered a number of projects over the past four years to improve spatial management of inshore fisheries. These have included the Mull Crab Box and the Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot, which have been delivered as part of a co-management approach with our Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups. Fisheries management measures are not a regional marine planning matter.
“Under the Bute House Agreement we will also soon consult on measures that will improve spatial management of our inshore waters, namely proposals to cap (to current levels) fishing activity within the three nautical mile area. The Agreement outlines further protections for our marine environment by introducing Highly Protected Marine Areas covering at least 10% of our waters by 2026, and delivering management measures for existing Marine Protected Areas where these are not already in place, as well as for Priority Marine Features at risk from bottom towed fishing gear out with these sites by 2024.”