On the Clyde Regulatory Zone

Final decisions have now been made for the Marine Protected Areas off South Arran, in Loch Fyne and Loch Goil.

The process has not been easy for many from the fishing fleet or for environmental campaigners, with many of the former aggrieved that the areas to be closed around South Arran go beyond the original options provided by Ministers; and the latter unhappy that the closures still do not go far enough to fully protect the marine environment.

At the same time, the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust [SIFT] has lodged its application for a Regulating Order to manage the entire 3700km2 Firth of Clyde fishery in a way which benefits it for the long term. The proposals centre on plans to restrict prawn and scallop fishing in 17 zones around the Firth. These zones would allow stocks and the seabed to recover – bringing benefits to the fishing areas as well as to the wider ecosystem.

ClydeChart copyOur plans would close 8% of the Firth to all commercial prawn and scallop fishing, and roughly a further 20% to prawn trawling and scallop dredging [but not creeling or diving]. 72% of the Clyde would remain open to mobile gear fishing and over 90% would remain open to creelers and divers.

There are many differences between the Regulating Order and the MPAs, not just in terms of the size of the areas covered.

The MPAs are conservation measures, with indirect economic aims; whereas the Regulating Order has primarily economic aims – to bring about a stronger and more sustainable shellfishery alongside the benefits of a restored finfish industry, revived sea angling and a healthier marine environment.

Another key difference is that the Regulating Order, would put control of the local fishery in the hands of a new local Management Organisation [not SIFT], with half the seats on the board reserved for those who fish in the area, and the rest split between other stakeholders. Such management organisations already work elsewhere, and we’re confident they can work on the Clyde too.

Effectively the only alternative proposal on the table at the moment is to let the Clyde carry on being managed as it is currently – and that isn’t in the interest of the majority of stakeholders.

Existing management oversaw the decline of finfish stocks from the 1980s to the point that 99% of the catch on the Clyde is shellfish, most of which is scallops and prawns. Evidence from elsewhere tells us that fisheries that depend on one or two species are vulnerable – be it to climate change, market changes, or to disease. We also know that the current management leads to all-too-frequent conflicts over fishing gear, where trawling, dredging and creeling run up against each other.

Our economic assessment suggests the Clyde could, with the sort of management we propose, be supporting around 100 new fishing jobs in the commercial fleet. The assessment also shows that even more jobs could be created around recreational angling.  The boost this could bring to the local economy, especially in Argyll and Bute but also on Arran and down the Ayrshire coast is significant.

If the Clyde is to be a sustainable source of benefits in future we need to apply the best modern management tools. Like any asset it needs to be well managed. And as a public asset it needs to be managed for all of us – be they fishermen, anglers, wildlife enthusiasts or others. We think it’s time to see our seas as something in which there is legitimate public interest.

SIFT’s proposals might initially be controversial; in a large part because zoning proposals on this scale have not been tried in Scotland before. But we know that similar measures work well in other countries. We hope that success on the Clyde will inspire other coastal communities, in Scotland and further afield, to come together and plan how to look after the marine environment so it can best provide for all of us.

If you want to know more about SIFT’s proposals, take a look at the Information Pack here. And if you have views on this important issue, please take a minute to reply to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the link here, before the 18th January deadline. It’s not a complex technical consultation: it’s an opportunity for everyone with an interest in the Clyde just to say what they think.

Charles Millar, Director, SIFT

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Good news.. just need to go to a 3 mile limit ban for mobile fishing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

    Steve Barlow December 22, 2015 2:04 pm Reply
    • Is this the same Steve Barlow who took great delight in the sad sinking of the St. Apollo (?) with 5 crew on board, in the sound of Mull a couple of months ago?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      KEITHO December 23, 2015 10:06 am Reply
      • Crew recovered well, boat refloated.
        Happy Xmas

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

        KEITHO December 23, 2015 10:47 am Reply
  • Extra red tape, and expense on the fishermen… :-/

    Any management plan should be Marine Scotland controlled, elected and accountable. This is just lazy government to allow RO proposals from 3rd parties.

    I think the MPA’s and increase in MLS will already improve the stocks and maybe make it not profitable by the vessels with larger overheads.

    The RO goes above and beyond that and closes off a lot of sheltered areas worked by multiple smaller boats.

    It also forces the fleet to fish over the same smaller grounds, and maybe displaces the larger boats onto somewhere else outwith the RO.

    The SSMO (that folk are basing this proposal on) doesn’t work, is expensive, and created a closed shop – secret handshake club – that is very difficult for locals and new starts to get the licence.

    I think with the MPA’s plus the RO it will be difficult on the fleet and will have a knock on effect to the processors… and the local community.

    Hopefully we can follow Highland and Orkney’s example and boot the RO into the weeds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    diver1 December 22, 2015 2:49 pm Reply
  • I don’t know the details of whether this is good or bad.

    How many boats are we talking about and fisherman jobs? Let’s assume it is bad what is the alternative? To scrape the sea bed bare and exhaust the fishing grounds that are left?

    When not fishing can alternatives be found where the fleet gets paid eg cleaning up the area to remove plastic?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    No Cheese Here December 22, 2015 3:19 pm Reply
    • The Nephrop(prawn) fishery in the Clyde is healthy and being fished sustainably below Maximum Sustainable Yield(MSY). In fact ICES recommended to the EU Commission to increase the Total Allowable Catch of Nephrops by 41% for the Clyde area but as the Total Catch is decided on a West Coast Area V1A basis the increase was held to 16%.
      If this Order is passed by the Scottish Government it will amount to the privatisation of the Fishery in the Clyde by handing management of it to a charity.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      John MacDougall, Fisherman December 22, 2015 4:28 pm Reply
  • They are good questions NCH and something that we are striving to get a proper answer on, Clyde Fishing Association has called for proper socioeconomic report to be carried out. I know that a shellfish processor (the folks we land catch to) does not have a great forecast if both go ahead with loss of staff with the knock on effects and the loss of route to market for the fisherman… The fisherman worried about ground availability, and rising costs, boats go bust, folk loose their job. Less boats, less shore jobs (transport, chandlers, boat repair, marina/harbor dues, enforcement, etc etc)..
    I don’t think it’s in anyones interest to scrape the sea bed bare especially as it’s the fishermen’s livelihood.
    Maybe the MPA, increase in Minimum Landing Size, will show an improvement. – Marine Scotland(government) need to step up to the plate.
    The fleet already has/had a fishing for litter scheme.

    It has been suggested that the recreational scene might pick up, but I think that will be seasonal at best and only pocket money pumped back into the local community.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    diver1 December 22, 2015 4:28 pm Reply
  • It wasn’t in anyones interest to fish the Grand Banks bare … but while everyone argued about who was most responsible for overfishing that’s what happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    Arthur Blue December 22, 2015 8:00 pm Reply
    • Remember the headlines Arthur that there were only 100 cod left in the North Sea, and how the Green Lobby suppressed and did not report the amount of cod that were in the Bay of Fundy

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      John MacDougall, Fisherman December 23, 2015 8:54 pm Reply
  • To suggest SIFT’s RO is the only option for improvement is more than misleading. SIFT fail to explain that most of the sustainable changes and improvements to the Clyde already in place have been established by the fishermen themselves (eg area closures, minimum landing sizes, ban on weekend fishing, fishing for litter, gear improvements to aid sustainable clean low impact fishing etc). SIFT also fail to mention that stocks are improving in the Clyde, ICES science shows that prawn stocks are particularly healthy, the choice to fish mainly for prawns is a decison driven by healthy stock and market demand rather than any other reasons. SIFT have not engaged with many Clyde Communities, or indeed fishermen effectively, so to say this would put fisheries in local hands couldn’t be further from the truth from the very outset of the process, instead it will put the marine environment in the hands of a privilaged and often non expert few. Many key stakeholders have already found the consultation process by SIFT to be nothing short of a power struggle on behalf of a well funded interest group who wish to control (and ultimately potentially profit themselves through licence fees etc). The socio-economics provided by SIFT are not based in reality, even a short look at how the RO would propose to operate show genuine flaws and under resourcing in the business plan, with a presumption that private donations and limited EU funds would sustain a Regulating Order for 10 to 20 years, given that most EU projects fund for 3 years this is very unlikely. There are already a host of groups set up to manage the Clyde, these groups consist of experts from Marine Scotland, Scientists and fishermen. With management and stocks improving it would be foolish to remove authority from these established multi-partner channels and offer them to a well funded non expert organisation. The RO doesn’t offer the only way forward, many other official groups are already set up to ensure a balanced way forward. Of course there is always scope for positive improvement. Monty Halls in his Fishermen’s Apprentice programme (BBC iplayer, Episode 5) looks at how in the East Coast of America fishermen have taken a more active role in managing the fisheries themselves. So far, instead of the doom and gloom predictions of overfishing, the fishermen have managed to increase the health and abundance of the stock’s. They have brought in various practical restrictions and measures which have saw stocks increase dramatically. A sensible way forward would be to work with the fishermen and other key stakeholders to build on the already improving Clyde picture, not opt for a RO which is managed on an adhoc basis in the interests of one organisation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    Elaine December 22, 2015 8:44 pm Reply

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