Marine Scotland Announce MPA Management Measures
What has been announced?
The Scottish Government has published its response to the public consultation on management of 11 MPAs and 9 SACs held between November 2014 and February 2015.http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0047/00479038.pdf
It has also published draft Marine Conservation Orders (MCOs) under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 covering proposed management at four Marine Protected Areas: Wester Ross, Small Isles, Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura and South Arran.
The four MCOs have been produced because the measures are considerably different from those that were in the consultation and, using this legal process, Scottish Government are required to publish draft Orders to enable interested parties to review and comment on them.
What are the MCO proposals?
• Prohibit suction dredge, mechanical dredge, beam trawl, and demersal trawl throughout the MPA.
• Demersal trawl will be permitted in 3 specified areas by vessels of less than 150 registered gross tonnes.
• Prohibit suction dredge, mechanical dredge, beam trawl, demersal trawl, and set nets throughout the MPA.
• Mechanical dredge and demersal trawl will be permitted in specified areas by vessels of less than 150 registered gross tonnes.
• Prohibit suction dredge, mechanical dredge, beam trawl, demersal trawl throughout the MPA.
• Demersal trawl will be permitted in specified areas by vessels of less than 120 registered gross tonnes.
• All static gear will be prohibited from 4 small zones – three for recovery of maerl beds, and one for conservation of seagrass beds.
Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura (including Firth of Lorne SAC but not Loch Sunart MPA/SAC)
• Prohibit suction dredge, mechanical dredge, beam trawl, demersal trawl, long lines, and bottom set nets - throughout the MPA / SAC with a small extension bridging the gap between the 2 sites that incorporates a deep water area known to be utilised by common skate.
• By way of derogation mechanical dredge and demersal trawl (subject to a no tickler chain technical measure) will be permitted in specified areas.
What are the next steps?
Written representations on the MCOs can be made to Marine Scotland by the 12th of July 2015.
The legislation will be subject to Parliamentary approval (via the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs Climate Change and Environment Committee) in September and are intended to come into effect on the 1st of October 2015.
What about the other MPAs?
For the remaining sites consulted on in 2014, Orders under the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984 will be laid in Parliament at the same time as the MCOs and will also come into effect on the 1st of October 2015. The Scottish Government has outlined its approach on each of these in the consultation analysis document. Nearly all will exclude mobile gear (e.g. dredge or trawl) from the entire site.
Proposed management measures for a further 6 Marine Protected Areas and 14 Special Areas of Conservation will be subject to a public consultation running between July and September 2015.
It is anticipated that the associated legislation arising from this process will come before the Scottish Parliament in early 2016 and will take effect before the Parliament dissolves for the election in spring 2016.
What about costs to livelihoods?
The CFA believe the actual cost of the management measures in real terms will go far beyond the estimated overall cumulative impact predicted by Marine Scotland of less than 2% of the combined annual income of the affected fishing vessels. The CFA believe that livelihoods and communities will be significantly impacted, resulting in a threat to already fragile communities.
What about creels?
The Scottish Government intends to only implement creel management measures in discrete parts of 4 of the protected areas at this time. This is generally for the most sensitive habitats e.g. serpulid reefs and Lophelia reefs.
The Scottish Government acknowledge the need for further research into the effects of creel fishing and will seek opportunities to undertake this in future, They will also consider with stakeholders what is perceived to be a sensible level of creel fishing, and have chosen Wester Ross, Sanday and South Arran as areas to begin a dialogue on this.