The Solway Code of Conduct was reviewed at a meeting of the Solway Subcommittee and relaunched in advance of the Scallop season on 1 November. Now in its 10th year the Code follows the principle of ‘Phone first’ and continues to largely prevent incidents of gear conflict. Details pertaining to Luce Bay and Sands SPA, including a diagrammatic map of the area and links to coordinates, have been included in the code to assist vessels mainly from outwith the Solway identify the derogated scalloping zones.
The full WCRIFG Management Committee meeting in late October agreed that a detailed report outlining proposals to increase the maximum landing size of prawns caught in the Clyde be prepared for Marine Scotland’s consideration.
It was agreed that the voluntary closure in Loch Sunart should lapse on 31 October and that a proposal to permanently amend the legal opening period to 1 November each year be presented to Marine Scotland for consideration.
Members received updates on the SIFIDS project and Engaging Fishermen in Environmental Survey and Monitoring.
A meeting of the WCRIFG Mull & Argyll Subcommittee work group in early September considered the pilot project application process launched in the summer by Marine Scotland. A report, which had been submitted to Marine Scotland in February proposing scallop and crab management options in waters west of Mull, was reviewed. The meeting agreed that the technical contents of the former report remained valid but the potential proposals be resubmitted as a pilot application for sustaining a crabbing area whereas the proposals for scallop management be resubmitted separately in a revised report.
WCRIFG Management Committee Members agreed unanimously to seek a voluntary closure to scalloping in Loch Sunart from 1 October until 31 October to prevent damage to the qualifying features of the designated site. Consistent with 2016 when a voluntary closure was previously made, members remain concerned that there could be an ingress of large numbers of vessels because the area opens a month earlier to scalloping than other west coast waters.
A WCRIFG Management Committee Scallop work group meeting in June agreed by a majority that proposals for scallop management in west coast waters be circulated to all WCRIFG members for comment before reporting to Marine Scotland for consideration and possible implementation.
The June launch of the Argyll & Ayr FLAG ensures that together with the Dumfries & Galloway FLAG and Highland & Moray FLAG there are opportunities for fishermen and others to apply for EMFF funding in all parts of WCRIFG’s area. More details of EMFF funding opportunities can be obtained via the web links below:
Argyll and Ayr FLAG: www.argyllandtheislandsleader.org.uk/EMFF
Dumfries and Galloway FLAG: www.dgleader.co.uk/about/emff/
Highland & Moray FLAG: www.highlandmorayflag.co.uk
The management committee met on 19 April, where the Fisheries Management Plan was agreed. The plan outlines a number of objectives that members wish to seek to address. The plan is designed to be a rolling document, and will be amended to include issues or objectives as these arise. The plan will be subject to review each time the management committee meets.
A paper outlining potential scallop management proposals was considered by the committee as a follow-on to an earlier proposal made to the scallop work group on 14 February. The meeting agreed that there needs to be measures taken on the management of west coast scallops, and have extended the scope of the WCRIFG scallop work group to include members of the Outer Hebrides RIFG and Orkney.
Drafting of the Fisheries Management Plan remains on-going with the aim of it being endorsed at the meeting of the WCRIFG Management Committee on 19 April 2017. Intended to be a flexible rolling document, the Plan will outline key objective the RIFG will seek to achieve over the next year or so. A meeting of the WCRIFG Clyde Subcommittee was held on 9 March to facilitate the development of aims and objectives for inclusion in the Plan.
Following on from the voluntary closure of Loch Sunart in late 2016 a work group of the WCRIFG Management Committee met on 14 February to explore options for longer term measures in west coast waters to reduce impacts of scalloping on stocks. A key concern of members relates to potential impacts by displacement of vessels from other west coast waters in addition to losses of some scalloping areas last year due to environment designations. Following the meeting feedback from attendees meant that alternative proposals will be put to the work group before wider distribution to the full WCRIFG.
Discussions to finalise draft proposals for a management demonstration site in waters West of Mull took place at Craignure, Mull on 31 January with members of the Mull & Argyll Subcommittee work group. Aimed at ensuring that scallops and brown crab are sustained whilst gear conflict is minimised a report has been circulated to the full WCRIFG membership after initial input from subcommittee members.