A while ago the Scottish Government commissioned a Report to use cost benefit analysis and economic impact assessment to identify the potential benefits / costs of the effects of stopping dredging and trawling for prawns, lobsters and scallops from being carried out between 1 to 3 three miles from the shore.
The recently released Report also identifies the need to recognise the demands of a diverse range of stakeholders as inshore fisheries areas are an important resource for recreational activity such as sea angling and scuba diving, whilst inshore biodiversity is a concern for those participating in wildlife observation and tourism.
Whilst it has been well understood for decades that those destructive and indiscriminate forms of commercial activity have destroyed the very environment diverse and productive fisheries rely on, successive governments and the fisheries managers have been reluctant to act.
This has not only resulted in areas such as the Clyde becoming effectively devoid of fish stocks, but has also caused concerns relating to excessive levels of exploitation of some stocks and conflicts between gear types, particularly between mobile and static gears, within various commercial fishing sectors.
The study is designed to help fill the substantial and widely recognised evidence gap which exists on inshore fisheries and which currently constrains the formation of policy.
The big question though is whether or not the Scottish Government will act given their lack of success to date in curtailing those destructive commercial activities, even within the Clyde and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) ?
The Report may also be downloaded in pdf format.
Commenting on the report Cabinet Secretary for Fisheries Richard Lochhead said: “This substantial piece of research highlights a number of key issues and will help inform our thinking around improving the management of our inshore fisheries.
“This work gives us a better understanding of the interactions between fishermen in inshore waters and the potential impact of different management measures.
“We will carefully consider the report and fully involve interested parties in discussions to use this report to ensure we promote sustainable and profitable fisheries."
As usual there is the question of whether or not recreational interests will be involved or will it just be the usual commercial bodies clamouring for greater access and less restrictions ?