Review of scallop dredging

scallops2Extracts from an article in The Herald 24/02/13

Scotland’s scallop-dredging industry will be the subject of a “wide-ranging review” by ministers in the wake of allegations that it is wrecking the seabed and destroying fish stocks.

The comprehensive review, due to start in April, could lead to new controls as dredging has attracted growing criticism because of the damage it can inflict on fish nurseries, coral reefs and marine wildlife.

Scottish Environment Link has been campaigning for a review of scallop dredging and according to Calum Duncan, dredging could lead to the “ecological wipe-out” of the more sensitive areas of the seabed.

“Biologically diverse reefs and other complex habitats can be irreversibly damaged,” he said. “Use of this heavy gear has to be managed sustainably for the benefit of our seas and the coastal communities that rely on them. We cannot take a business-as-usual approach.”

SIFT (The Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust) warned that the impact of scallop dredging couldn’t be hidden any longer. “They are the most significant cause of ecosystem degradation in our coastal seas,” said trust director Charles Millar.

“Their heavy iron teeth rip through habitats and flatten the seabed, devastating the fish nurseries that we need to restore stocks and support long-term jobs.”

However, the fishing industry’s reaction was muted. “It’s neither welcomed nor rejected,” Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said. “It’s just part of life, and we’ll take part in it.”

The terms of the review of scallop dredging are currently being worked out. “Scotland is at the forefront of developing sustainable fishing practices and following a consultation on scallop fishing last year we have announced a wide-ranging review of the industry in Scotland,” said a Government spokeswoman.

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