Shellfish interests in England and Wales are watching with interest the voluntary pot limitation schemes in the Western Isles and the Clyde, reports Tim Oliver.

Barrie Deas: “We’re looking at the same issues, but maybe through the different end of the telescope.”

There are unlikely to be immediate plans for a similar approach to pot fisheries in England and Wales, although they could be adopted in the future, said NFFO chief executive Barrie Deas, who is chairman of the Shellfish Industry Advisory Group (SIAG).

The group works separately on crab, scallop and whelk plans, to which Seafish provides the secretariat. It does not work with Nephrops, one of the target fisheries in the work proposed by the Clyde Fishermen’s Association, with only very limited Nephrops creel fisheries being found south of Scotland.

Saying he was ‘very interested’ in both the Clyde proposals and the separate Western Isles project, where crab and lobster fishermen are being supported by scientists from St Andrew’s University in a pot limitation scheme, Barrie Deas told Fishing News: “I think we’re looking at the same issues, but maybe through the different end of the telescope.

“The Clyde is a voluntary localised initiative, and they are building up the evidence base there. It’s all very relevant, but I think in England and Wales it will be looked at in a slightly different way because of what’s already in train.

“With the Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs) being developed by the SIAG, it’s coming more top down, but at some point they will need, region by region, area by area, to have those kinds of conversations about evidence, data, what are we trying to manage, where we want to get to, and how we get there.

“I don’t think the idea of FMPs is to impose something from the outside. The top-down work is being done to provide a framework, but ultimately you’ll have to have those conversations about the details of management at local and regional level.

“It’s a bit like what’s being described as a ‘Russian doll’ approach – you’ve got this broad framework, but ultimately it will be at the local level that things like limits on pot numbers will have to be decided.

“There’s some fundamental decisions to be made on how you manage pot fisheries – do you manage the inputs or the outputs? Do you restrict input through the number of pots, number of vessels, capacity of vessels – or do you manage the outtake from the fishery through a TAC-type system, say, or technical measures?

“I think all of those things will be on the menu, and maybe different areas will want to take different approaches.” He added that a single national approach ‘just wouldn’t work’.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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