The Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation (SCFF) gave a broad welcome to the principle behind the proposals aired by the Clyde Fishermen’s Association within the West Coast RIFG, whilst also questioning the overall benefits of a creel cap on individual vessels targeting Nephrops when they are responsible for less than 10% of overall landings in the West of Scotland – particularly as there is no planned cap on the activity of the trawl fleet that takes the remaining 90%.
Speaking for the SCFF, Bally Philp told FN: “We wish the Clyde fishermen every luck with this initiative, and applaud the creel fishermen willing to limit their own activity in a bid to increase long-term CPUE and better stock status.
“Our warning, though, would be that we have seen from previous trials in Loch Torridon that a creel limit, without an enforcement mechanism, without a cap on vessel numbers, is unlikely to see the positive results they are aiming for in the Clyde.
“Our experience and advice would be that an overall creel limit is needed to obtain the increases in CPUE and stock abundance they are aiming for, as well as a limit on effort by other gears targeting the same stock. Reducing creel numbers, and seeing an increase in trawl catches, is not going to help any stock recovery, and likely in the long term will see further erosion of the value of the Clyde prawn fishery.
“We look forward to hearing how the creel cap works to increase the benefits to working fishermen. Whilst we would advocate a different approach, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and anything that improves stock conservation and fishermen’s livelihoods has to be welcomed.”
The SCFF has itself made proposals for restrictions on mobile gears on many inshore grounds (Fishing News, 18 August, ‘Scotland’s inshore: The case for three miles’), calling for local spatial restrictions on mobile gears, as well as creel limits, in a bid to maximise incomes and profitability from fishing grounds for local communities, whilst meeting the obligations of the Fisheries Act.
This follows a judicial review brought by the SCFF against Marine Scotland over its refusal to consider the federation’s proposals for a ban on mobile gears inside three miles.
In response to a tweet from Marine Scotland welcoming the IFG proposals, which the SCFF was not tagged in, the federation tweeted: “It’s laughable that you are so keen to support limits on creel effort, which to be clear so do we. Yet you would go to court to avoid setting up even a pilot, with significant majority local support from fishermen, that sought to explore the benefits of restrictions on trawling.”
One Western Isles creeler, commenting on their pot limitation project, told FN that, whilst the aims of the project were laudable: “The cap doesn’t affect me, or many other owners. It will stop the bigger vessels from expanding further, but nothing else.”
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.