THE WELSH GOVERNMENT
|TITLE||New Scallop Fishing in Cardigan Bay – New Management Measures|
|DATE||31 October 2016|
|BY||Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs|
The Welsh Government undertook an extensive consultation which closed on 17 February 2016, on proposals for the future management of the Scallop fishery in Cardigan Bay. We received over 5,500 responses and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit their views. All responses to the consultation have now been carefully considered.
Prior to the consultation, a two-year programme of extensive research within the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) was undertaken by Bangor University in collaboration with the fishing industry. This was the first study of its kind and focussed on understanding the amount of fishing which could be considered sustainable and which would not adversely affect the integrity of the SAC. The research offers a unique opportunity to implement an ecosystem based approach to management of this fishery. The purpose of the consultation was to consider the new legislative framework necessary to manage the fishery for the future.
There was a large response to the consultation. It is clear a lot of people have some very strongly held views and care deeply about our marine environment and the species that live there. However, many of the responses simply objected to the principle of dredging for scallops but offered no supporting evidence. There were also a significant number of responders who supported the proposals, with a number of detailed responses to the consultation and the scientific evidence set out in the consultation. It is for this reason we sought to arrange independent, scientific peer review of the Bangor University research which involved scientific analysis of the evidence presented. The peer review has determined the evidence and conclusions drawn by Bangor University are robust and of high scientific merit, with the data quality of sufficient standard to satisfy statutory Habitats Regulation Assessments. I have asked for the relevant scientific and research documents to be published following my decision.
It is vital we do all we can to ensure we adequately protect the designated features and species within our SAC – indeed the Welsh Ministers are obliged by the Habitats Directive to fulfil that role, in addition to helping us to fulfil our statutory commitments set by new Welsh legislation, namely the Environment Act and Well-being of Future Generations Act. At the same time, when the evidence indicates some fishing activity is possible with no significant impact on those features and no adverse impact on the integrity of the SAC, we should not stand in the way of economic activity.
I have considered, very carefully, the range of responses made to the consultation to help us achieve this balance within Cardigan Bay.
The consultation responses did not generate any new evidence to suggest this fishery would have an impact on those protected features within the Cardigan Bay SAC or on the integrity of the SAC itself. I am reassured the proposed new flexible approach is proportionate and will enable us to consider appropriate areas and management mechanisms for the future of this fishery.
This has led me to conclude it is appropriate to proceed with the preparation of new legislation to introduce a flexible permit scheme within Cardigan Bay.
At present, these proposals include:
- A flexible management scheme with the ability to apply appropriate and timely conditions to maximise the fishery whilst protecting site features at all times;
- The establishment of a management advisory board comprising science, industry, and relevant environmental groups with the purpose of making recommendations to Welsh Government on the setting of appropriate permit conditions; and
- The running of an annual consultation (prior to opening of the fishery) to seek views on conditions to be applied and keeping stakeholders involved in developments in the fishery.I want to reassure everyone this will be a carefully and proactively managed fishery, with the number of fishing boats being monitored. This new management regime will mean that Wales is at the forefront of international efforts to sustainably manage its natural resources through a truly integrated and innovative approach. I asked my officials to liaise with stakeholders to inform them of my decision and reasoning and to begin to work collaboratively to proceed with the next stages of implementation.
Welsh Fisherman’s Association’s Official Press Release
PRESS RELEASE 31st OCTOBER 2016
Fishermen welcome Welsh Government’s ‘positive step’ to scallop fishery in Cardigan Bay
The Welsh Fishermen’s Association (WFA) has welcomed the Welsh Government’s ‘positive direction’ on the future of the scallop fishery industry in Cardigan Bay.
The WFA’s response follows the announcement today (Monday) by Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths of the result of consultation into new management measures for scallop fishing in the Bay.
The decision marks the culmination of a huge amount of collaboration and input by key stakeholders from industry, government, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the Seafish Industry Authority and academia to support the sustainable management of an important fishery in Wales.
Jim Evans, CEO of the WFA said, “We see the decision by the Cabinet Secretary as a positive step towards the sustainable management of our fisheries in Wales and are heartened by the stance in light of the fierce opposition and misinformation regarding the proposals being put forward at and during the consultation period.”
The consultation attracted attention from environmental groups and campaigners, which led to a huge amount of interest being generated and a co-ordinated campaign to oppose the fishing for scallop in Cardigan Bay.
Mr Evans continued, “We knew that the scientific evidence base for the proposals would be critical to support decision making, and world leading research undertaken by Bangor University demonstrated the recovery and resilience of seabed areas from scallop fishing.
“We will now seek to develop a sustainable management regime in partnership with Welsh Government, NRW and other marine stakeholders that will support a long standing traditional fishery of significant importance to our fishing communities in Wales.”
The WFA commissioned MRAG Consultants to undertake a pre-assessment of the scallop fishery in Cardigan Bay, bench-marking it against the principles of Marine Stewardship Council standards. The study confirmed that sustainability of the fishery could be achieved within the context of the proposed new measures for the Cardigan Bay Scallop fishery.
The scallop consultation outcome follows the launch of the Seafood Strategy for Wales on the 13th of October by the Cabinet Secretary. Alongside other shellfish landed in Cardigan Bay, scallop is an important species supporting the seasonal variations of fisheries in Wales and the Welsh seafood offer.
Gwynedd fisherman, Mark Roberts, who operates the scallop vessel ‘Harmoni’ from Pwllheli, said, “The consultation outcome offers progress to eight years of uncertainty over the future of the scallop fishery in Cardigan Bay. The responsibility to support a sustainable fishery is now on our shoulders and we will do everything we can to help continue the research and monitoring that will help to inform the future management of the fishery in Wales.”
In an environment of UK transition from the European Union, the WFA believes the decision by the Welsh Government is a strong endorsement of evidence-based measures that support marine conservation, while supporting fishing families and communities who are at the centre of a vibrant and sustainable seafood sector in Wales. All of which contribute to the goals of the Welsh Government’s ‘Well Being of Future Generations Act’.
Following our Press Release, please see below map that indicates the area in Cardigan Bay that applies to the Cabinet Secretary’s Statement – Importantly, not the whole of Cardigan Bay.