Scallop wars break out between Scotland and the Isle of Man
November 02 2010 Charles Clover
A decision by the Isle of Man government to exclude half the Scottish scallop-dredging fleet has provoked furious protests from the Hollyrood government.
The Isle of Man has passed a by-law that will exclude 40 large vessels from fishing for lucrative scallops during the short season that begins this month.
The move was greeted with consternation by fishermen in Scotland where a government spokesman branded the new bylaw as “unjustified and discriminatory.”
The Isle of Man made no statement of any kind yesterday but proposing the new bylaw in March Phil Gawne, fisheries minister, said it was to pre-empt a repetition of the events of last year when attempts to impose emergency conservation measures were vetoed by the Scottish government.
He said that he was hopeful that the new by-law, which has been given the approval by ministers in London, would be of great benefit to Manx and Scottish fishermen. The Isle of Man is also creating the Queenie Management Board which will involve fishermen in the management of queen scallops.
Isle of Man officials say that the “nomadic” Scottish scallop dredging fleet wiped out a generation of scallops when they arrived for the short fishing season between Nov 1 and Christmas last year.
The move follows a decision by the Isle of Man fisheries minster last week to close 40 square kilometers of Ramsay Bay as a nature reserve which will also benefit scallops.
The Manx by-law comes after Wales closed its waters to the Scottish scallop-dredging fleet this year.
The Scottish government hit back at the Manx government. A spokesman said: “The Isle of Man measures will not safeguard the marine environment and are simply a flawed and discriminatory attempt to reduce scallop fishing effort by excluding some Scottish vessels. This is without any scientific basis and smaller vessels are still free to fish without restriction.
“The Isle of Man have rejected reasonable Scottish Government proposals, which would achieve the reduction in scallop fishing they seek while not unfairly penalising Scottish vessels.”
Two members of the Clyde Inshore Fishery Group, the management body for the area, are understood to have walked out last week because they would not sit in the same room as a representative of Manx fishermen.
Scottish officials confirmed that feelings were running high among Scottish fishermen and that legal action was being considered by the Scottish scallop dredging industry.
Bertie Armstrong of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said:
“It would have been perfectly possible to incorporate management and still allow those who had fished there for decades and kept stocks healthy for decades to go on fishing.
“The effect will be to transfer the revenue from Scottish fishermen to fishermen in the Isle of Man. We think this is a political move by the Isle of Man government to protect the resource for themselves. That’s not fair.
“We have been desperately trying to get the Isle of Man government to talk to us.”
Privately Scottish fishermen blame their own government for not responding more forcefully to the proposals by the Isle of Man and the science that has led them to close the scallop fishery to large vessels.
Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Fisheries minister, announced that a ban on scallop dredging in Luce Bay in the south west of Scotland, close to the Isle of Man, which is designated a special area of conservation would be extended so that it was not overfished by vessels excluded from Isle of Man waters.
Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland, is understood to have called his counterpart in the Isle of Man yesterday to remonstrate with him over the closures but officials say the Isle of Man complied with its requirement to consult the Scots and the bylaws are unlikely to be shifted in the courts.
The by-law applies to vessels over 300 horsepower that have not fished for more than 50 days in the area over the past 18 months.
Other Scottish vessels with “grandfather” rights will be allowed to go on fishing.
A photo taken by a young Manx skipper of scallop vessels fishing off the Targets, west of Peel, at the start of the 2008 scallop season. The 2009 season saw even greater numbers of vessels arrive for the 'olympic fishery', which saw markets saturated, catch rates fall dramatically, and widespread damage to fishing grounds.
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2 Responses to "Scallop wars break out between Scotland and the Isle of Man"
Abso Lutely Says:
Save the Scallops!
Abso Lutely Says:
Save the Scallops!
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