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Inshore Fishing Study Underway

SCOTLAND, UK - Waters around Orkney and in the Pentland Firth are the location of a detailed pilot study on inshore fishing to be carried out by Marine Scotland. This is the first time that such a detailed study will be carried out, with the aim of involving all fishermen who are active in this area.

he study, which will be based on face-to-face interviews with fishermen, will build up a comprehensive plan of where fishing takes place. It is planned that the final results will detail the areas fished, their economic value, the species caught, and the gear used.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, Richard Lochhead said: "The information obtained by this study will be integral to the development of the pilot marine spatial plan for the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters. This area is recognised for its significant potential to deploy future wave and tidal energy developments and the pilot study will allow us to properly evaluate the range of activity within it and decide how those interests can be best taken into account. The results will also inform other marine management work.

"Following evaluation, the methodology, revised as required, will be extended to cover all Scottish territorial waters. Responsible management of the marine environment requires a comprehensive understanding of its many uses. On the basis of that understanding we can meet our responsibilities to build and maintain a sustainable and thriving future for all the sectors reliant upon the sea for their livelihoods.

"Marine Scotland is working on this pilot study in partnership with the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. The pilot will be overseen by a steering group which also includes representatives of local fishing groups.

"All the data gathered will be anonymous but detailed enough to reflect fully how the waters around Orkney and within the Pentland Firth are used by the fishing industry. I value the co-operation of the fishermen taking part in the survey and I will ensure that they are fully informed on the progress of this innovative study.

Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief executive, Bertie Armstrong, said: "We welcome this trial. Planning for developments in sea space already used for other purposes must take all activity into account. Should fishing - an established, traditional industry producing food and sustaining coastal communities - be compromised, then planning will have failed. The Scottish Fishermen's Federation will do everything within its power to work with Scottish Government to ensure that the right data is received and properly recognised, in the Pentland Firth trial and beyond.

"There will be different challenges in different locations. With its varied and changing nature, fishing activity is not the easiest to map - creating the risk of underestimation. The trial will help government and industry to explore the difficulties together."

The pilot will take place this Spring and results should be made available later on this year.

The draft of the first stage of the pilot marine spatial plan in Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters was published in March 2010.

This document is being finalised following an informal public consultation and the Government is working with local authorities and other key stakeholders in developing the next stages of the plan.

The development of this marine spatial plan for the area is a response, in part, to the strong commercial interest in developing wave and tidal energy projects in the area. While wishing to maximise opportunities for development, it is essential to minimise any conflicts with other users of the marine environment and to ensure that the marine environment is protected.

the Fish Site Editor

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