SFF: Scots scallopers failed by new Isle of Man fishing rights bylaw

With the passing into statute of a new bylaw by the Isle of Man government that excludes much of the Scottish scallop fleet from Manx waters, the Scottish scallop industry has lost at a stroke the greater part of its access to an economically essential and traditional fishing ground, said the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF).

The SFF and its constituent member the Scallop Association say it is “blatant” that the science associated with the decision only looked at the effect of already decided exclusion measures and did not explore the issue of continued sustainability.

The new law actually fixes only the economic sustainability of the Manx industry by excluding the majority of the Scottish fleet, which for decades has been part of the fishing activity, they said.

In sharp contrast, during the Manx scallop fishery closed season observed by all participants each summer, Isle of Man boats are currently welcomed into the Scottish fishery, they added.

John Hermse, secretary of the Scallop Association, said: “Fishermen do not make rules or the law. We will provide data and discuss compromise, but responsibility for our defence lies with the fisheries administrations.

“We had made it crystal clear to the Scottish government right from the beginning in April that this regulation was all about walling out the Scottish fleet and not about stock sustainability.

“Despite offers on sustainability measures, nothing has changed and we are now cornered. There is no way to describe our current situation other than as a failure of support. There is little to gain from accusations of blame between the Scottish government and Defra, the fact is we are now compromised.

“Political action is now required at the highest level to restore access to those vessels with traditional rights. Even at this eleventh hour we reiterate our willingness to talk.”

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