Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

Scottish crab and lobster management measures from May

From 12th May 2024, selected interim measures will be implemented in Scotland
including:

  • Prohibition on landing of egg-bearing crab and lobster into Scotland
  • Controls on creel fishing vessels of more than 12 meters overall with a track
    record of landing more than 200 tonnes of crab and / or lobster in any 12
    month period since 2020

Scottish inshore fisheries are vital to our economy and rural communities, but our
science shows crab and lobster stocks are under pressure from overfishing in many
areas.

The Scottish Government are aware that concerns over the health of these stocks
are shared by many of our fishers and localised, stakeholder-driven initiatives have
focussed on addressing declining catch rates for crab and lobster.

Earlier this year, working with the Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) and
Fisheries Management and Conservation (FMAC) Inshore Fisheries Subgroup, we
began engaging with hundreds of fishermen and representatives to address these
challenges head-on and formalise solutions. Central to this approach is collaborating
with industry on how we might use short-term interim measures to improve the
health of shellfish stocks and overall sustainability of our inshore fishing industry
from May 2024.

These interim measures are part of an overarching improvement roadmap to inshore
fisheries management in Scotland which also includes:

  • updating our stock assessment data this year, considering other indicators of
    stock health for crab and lobster, as well as improving our crab and lobster
    sampling programme
  • consulting on a broad package of inshore fisheries management measures
    later in 2024
  •  progressing related key transformational projects such as inshore vessel
    tracking for the under 12 metre fleet

We want to continue the co-management approach demonstrated by our
development of interim measures. This includes government, industry, academia and
others coming together to help shape fisheries management policy that recognises
the complex variations and interlinkages in Scotland’s inshore fisheries.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, Mairi Gougeon,
said:
“It’s in all of our interest to alleviate pressure on our shellfish stocks and improve the
science base to help ensure sustainability for Scotland’s most prominent inshore
fisheries.

“Decisive action and co-management will help aid Scotland’s transition to a more
agile and responsive management system.

“Only by engaging with all of industry, and listening carefully to people’s unique ideas
and expertise, will we create solutions and policies that work for businesses, the
wider sector and, importantly, the marine environment.”

The full detail of the license condition on the short-term improvements will be
published on the Scottish Government website on Friday 10 May 2024.

Background

  • Scotland’s inshore fisheries are defined as extending out to 12 nautical miles
  •  around 80% of Scotland’s circa 2,000 registered fishing vessels operate in
    these waters
  •  they are typically small, family businesses, comprising a mix of creelers,
    Nephrops trawlers, hand-liners, scallop dredgers and divers
  •  the 2017 Inshore Fisheries Pilots Initiative saw projects implemented in the
    Outer Hebrides and Mull. Both of these used additional management measures to address diminishing catch returns and competition for space our RIFG network has overseen development of various other initiatives
  • including a suite of voluntary static gear controls in the Firth of Clyde the latest Marine Directorate Stock Assessment Report for 2016–2019
    (published in 2023) highlights many stakeholders’ views on the health of
    shellfish stocks