West Coast Fishing Concern
26th July 2012
The Scottish Government is considering urgent action to address exceptionally high levels of prawn fishing activities in the West of Scotland.
Recent months have seen a shift of vessels that normally fish for prawns in the North Sea, where prawns have been scarce this year, moving to the West causing much greater fishing activity than expected.
While quota is projected to last the year and overall prawn fishing is at a similar level to 2011 and 2010, the displacement means the annual 'time at sea' constraints for the West Coast - the set limits for each geographic area under the EU's Cod Recovery Plan - will be breached without action being taken. This would result in the early closure of the fishery.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:"We want to do all we can to ensure that fishermen can catch their quotas, however the unprecedented prawn fishing pressures in the West has put that at risk. Therefore I've instructed my officials to urgently explore measures to remedy the situation.
"Biological factors mean that prawns have been late appearing in the North Sea - but EU measures as part of the Cod Recovery Plan are too inflexible to make allowances for this unexpected development.
"Clearly we want to see West Coast fishermen able to fish their local waters, therefore we are proposing to temporarily restrict access for North Sea vessels so that a full year's fishery in the west can be maintained. This will mean the fleet has the time to catch its full quota.
"I have received a full report about the situation from Marine Scotland who are urgently consulting with industry so that we have temporary controls in place as soon as possible. I recognise the deep concerns of the industry about this issue and we will continue to carefully monitor developments."