This report provides an analysis of responses to the Consultation on Landing Controls for the Scottish Crab and Lobster Fisheries. Respondents' views on each proposal are examined, with common trends and issues highlighted as appropriate. Marine Scotland's response to these views is also provided with next steps outlined.
Brown crab, velvet crab and lobster are important to Scotland's rural economy. Commercial landings of these species totalled £26.8 million in 2015, helping to sustain hundreds of small fishing businesses around the Scottish coast. However, there are concerns over the health of these fisheries.
Stock assessments carried out by Marine Scotland Science have indicated that these species are being fished at levels close to or above the F MSY proxy ( F MSY is the fishing mortality consistent with the largest average yield that can continuously be taken from a stock under existing environmental conditions). Their current management advice is that reducing the level of fishing mortality could result in a higher yield and biomass for these stocks in the long term.
The Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland have all taken steps in recent years to implement tighter landing controls to better manage their respective shellfish stocks. Fishing representatives - via the Inshore Fisheries Management and Conservation ( IFMAC) group, Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups ( RIFGs), and fishing associations - have called for Marine Scotland to introduce similar measures for the rest of the coast.
Marine Scotland issued the Consultation on Landing Controls for the Scottish Crab and Lobster Fisheries to seek views on a range of proposals aimed at improving the sustainability and management of Scotland's key shellfish stocks. These proposals were as follows:
- increasing the minimum landing size for brown crab to 150 mm carapace width
- increasing the minimum landing size for velvet crab to 70 mm carapace width
- prohibiting the landing of berried (egg bearing) velvet crab
- increasing the minimum landing size for lobster to 90 mm carapace length
- decreasing the maximum landing size for female lobster to 145 mm carapace length
- introducing a maximum landing size for male lobster of 145 mm carapace length
- prohibiting the landing of 'crippled' lobsters (those missing one or both claws)
- introducing prohibitions on sale and carriage to match any landing prohibitions that are implemented on a uniform basis across the entire Scottish coast
The consultation was launched on 26 February 2016 and ran for a 12-week period, closing to responses on 20 May 2016.
There were 119 respondents to the consultation, which consisted of 93 private individuals (78%) and 26 organisations (22%). Respondents break down by type as follows:
|Inshore management group||6||5%|
|Catcher / Processor||4||3%|
|Animal welfare group||1||1%|
Respondents were primarily those with a direct interest in Scotland's crab and lobster fisheries, with the majority of private individuals and organisations being either fishermen or fishing associations respectively.
A copy of the consultation document, along with published responses, is available at https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/marine-scotland/crab-lobster-landing-controls.
As a result of the consultation process, new management measures will be introduced into the crab and lobster fisheries as outlined in this document. These new measures have been informed by the responses to this consultation, scientific advice and feedback from the RIFGs.