New management measures for scallop fishing in Cardigan Bay

Tuesday 1st November 2016

Bottlenose dolphins (photo by Nia Hâf Jones)

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has announced new management measures for the scallop fishery in Cardigan Bay.

On 31 October, the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM, announced that she has decided to proceed with a new flexible permit scheme for the scallop fishery in Cardigan Bay. This decision follows a 12 week public consultation earlier this year. This new system will not come into immediate effect and a statutory instrument will be developed for the next scallop season starting in November 2017. Therefore, the current season that started on 1 November will continue with the existing permit system.

The Wildlife Trusts in Wales are pleased that the Welsh Government has outlined how it intends to manage the fishery in a more sustainable way and we hope that this will cause less impact across the entire site. We also welcome the intention to invite all stakeholders to a task and finish group to determine the future management of the fishery. It is understood by the Wildlife Trusts that the new scheme will allow the Welsh Government to stringently manage the fishery. The new permits will allow the government to restrict scallop fishing activities, through mechanisms such as limiting quota and the gear used.

Cardigan Bay is protected under law and designated as a Special Area of Conservation because of its internationally important population of Bottlenose dolphins. The Bay also has two other potential protection designations pending, a Special Protection Area for non-breeding Red-throated diver and a Special Protection Area for Harbour porpoise both of which are internationally important. We have been reassured that an assessment, known as Habitats Regulations Assessment, will be undertaken each year, based on the permit conditions applied, to ensure that the fishery will not have an adverse impact on these important protected areas. However, we already have concerns that there is little to no evidence of how the activity affects Bottlenose dolphins in the area.

There are concerns that the new permitting will also enable other areas of the protected site will be opened to allow the fishery to alternate the area fished for scallops, this rotation could open up areas within 53% of the protected site to the fishery but will be subject to an annual consultation to seek views on the proposed permit conditions.

The Wildlife Trusts are concerned about the process of the consultation and the fact that the fisheries are being considered in isolation. The sustainability of the other aspects of the site, such as the wider environment (not just the seabed), social and other economic activities that rely on the protected site, have been overlooked.

The Wildlife Trusts believe that this decision does not fully take account of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, particularly Goal 2. This requires the resilience of the entire ecosystem and to maintain an enhanced biodiversity. We hope to work with local communities, Welsh Government and the fishing industry to develop a truly sustainable approach to managing the scallop fisheries in Wales.