The Scottish Government has introduced an urgent Marine Conservation Order (MCO) off the coast of Wester Ross after receiving evidence of a scallop dredger breaching voluntary arrangements for fishing in the area; in this instance it is reported that the dredger was photographed in the act.
The site, a nursery habitat for young scallops as well as other juvenile fish and shellfish, was designated a Marine Protected Area (MPA) last year.
Unfortunately, as has been shown many times before, voluntary arrangements with certain elements of the commercial sector whose word cannot be relied on just will not work. This is both unfortunate for those who adhere to the agreement and for the marine environment the agreement is trying to protect.
Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “It’s very disappointing that a scallop dredger has breached the voluntary fishery management measures in this MPA which is considered vital to the recovery of maerl beds.”
Lochhead added: “The evidence in this case has left me with no choice but to close the Wester Ross MPA to dredging now, instead of waiting until November as planned.”
Hopefully this is a sign of the times to come and other similar illegal or destructive activities, including razor clam fishing, will be addressed.
The Scottish Government acted and have prohibited all forms of dredging in the Wester Ross MPA as of midnight 18/08/15.
Category: Scottish Government News