Welsh scallop fishermen develop best practice

scallops2A Welsh fishermen led initiative is developing best practice in scallop fisheries management by working with scientists, managers and conservation bodies to protect seabed habitats.

Scallop fisheries are acknowledged to be amongst the most potentially disturbing forms of fishing currently occurring in British waters and if carried out over sensitive habitats, may cause irrevocable damage to the seabed.

Since 2009 the WFA has been central to developing a Welsh Waters Scallop Strategy in partnership with the Welsh Government, Seafish, Universities and conservation bodies, the aim of which is to secure a long term sustainable scallop fishery in Wales that maximises socio-economic return whilst respecting the marine environment and other fisheries.

The central themes of the Welsh Scallop Strategy are:

  • Spatial management (zoning): scallop dredging avoids areas where sensitive seabed habitats have been identified
  • Strong policing of zones: a line on a chart is meaningless unless it can be enforced.
  • Scientific research to increase the knowledge base that is used to inform management.
  • At the moment key studies include:
    • Seabed mapping of the Cardigan Bay SAC to improve knowledge of seabed habitats.
    • Experimental research into the impacts and recovery on dynamic seabed habitats
    • Stock assessment of the Welsh scallop population to improve the knowledge of the scallop population and ensure that it can be managed sustainably for the future.

Welsh scallop fishermen are also working closely with scientists and fishing gear technicians from Seafish to develop low impact and efficient scallop gears that will reduce seabed disturbance.

Jim Evans of the Welsh Fishermen’s Association said: “It is a great credit to the Welsh scallop fishermen that we have come so far in the development of a Welsh Waters Scallop Strategy in such a short time. It would not have been possible without their hard work and willingness to engage.”

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