The Welsh Assembly Government has announced a comprehensive set of measures aiming to improve the sustainability of scallop fishing in Welsh waters when the season reopens on 1st March. Among various technical measures, including limits on the design, size and number of dredges that a boat can use, the open season will be reduced by one month from 2011. A number of areas are being completely closed to scalloping because of conservation concerns (see map).
The order bans scallop dredging within one nautical mile of the Welsh coast, in Wales’ Special Areas of Conservation and a number of other areas beyond the boundaries of designated conservation sites following advice from the Countryside Council for Wales. Scalloping will be allowed to continue within one section of Cardigan Bay SAC. This area was identified by fishermen as being of primary importance for scalloping and based on best available evidence, including research carried out by Bangor University this winter, dredging in this area was considered unlikely to damage the features of the SAC.
Rural Affairs minister Elin Jones said “The technical measures introduced will enhance management of the scallop fishery in Welsh waters, while the spatial restrictions will control the activity in areas which have been identified as important to vulnerable marine species and habitats. With the exception of part of the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC), all other SACs within Welsh waters will currently remain closed to scallop dredging.
“Following a 10-week consultation, as well as recent survey work undertaken in the Cardigan Bay area by Bangor University and advice received from the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), I have decided to allow scallop dredging in one part of the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
“We will look to undertake a similar assessment to that carried out recently in one area of Cardigan Bay, which could lead to re-evaluation of areas where dredging is currently prohibited.”
Click here for links to Bangor University’s research report and advice from the Countryside Council for Wales
Click here for the full text of the Scallop Fishery (Wales) Order 2010(2)
Update January 2011 – WAG have uploaded a number of documents on their website regarding their decisions about scallop fisheries management.