Size of fishing fleet cut as Isle of Man king scallop season opens

  • In Science
  • 2022-11-01 07:56:50Z
  • By BBC
Fishing boats moored in Peel harbour
Fishing boats moored in Peel harbour  

Fewer boats will take to Manx waters for the start of the Isle of Man king scallop season as part of efforts to protect the fishery's future.

Sixty vessels have been authorised to fish by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), which is down from 75 last year.

The cut in the fleet's size is part of a plan to make the fishery sustainable.

DEFA member Michelle Haywood said boat numbers had to be limited or there would "not be enough to go round".

The king scallop fishery, which runs each year from November to May, has opened with an allowable catch of 2,049 tonnes, mirroring the previous season's total.

Daily catch limits remain at 700kg, while new restrictions have been placed on dredges and other equipment to protect juvenile scallops.

Dr Michelle Haywood MHK
Dr Michelle Haywood MHK  

The drop in the number of boats permitted to fish comes after DEFA introduced stricter rules on who could catch king scallops, with vessels required to prove they have fished the area in the last four years.

Dr Haywood said it was important to "not allow huge numbers of people into the fishery" as it affected the economic viability of the industry.

"Our view is if you haven't fished in our waters for four years, it obviously wasn't economically important to you," she said.

The new rules would mean the island could "end up with a fantastic product, without the risk that it is all going to disappear in a crash in five years' time because we have taken too much", she added.

The Manx Fish Producers Organisation, which supports the new entry requirement, has previously raised concerns there were "too many boats fishing for too few scallops".

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