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Scallop Industry Moves to Become More Sustainable

UK - The Scallop Industry has appointed an expert to develop a code of conduct for sustainable scalloping.

The Scallop Strategy Group has appointed Dr Andrew Woolmer to develop a Code of Conduct that will promote sustainable scallop fisheries whilst affording adequate protection to sensitive seabed habitats and species. This initiative is a response by the scallop industry to increased scrutiny from conservation groups and the closure of traditional scallop fishing grounds such as Lyme Bay, the Firth of Lorn and most recently, the closure of Cardigan Bay on conservation grounds.

Over the next six months, Dr Woolmer will review current working practices and identify where potential change to current practices could deliver a more respected fishery. Dr Woolmer has experience of fisheries management in protected marine sites and is an advocate of working in partnership with fishermen to find solutions to management problems.

Dr Woolmer said: "The work will focus on promoting sustainable management of the scallop fisheries to ensure that stocks are effectively managed in partnership with the authorities. This will include fishermen undertaking many of the stock sampling duties themselves to ensure that data is available to scientists."

The environmental concerns over scallop fishing tend to centre around the impact on sensitive seabed habitats and species, the precise distribution of which is sometimes unknown, which can lead to excessive spatial management restrictions. In this regard, a key part of the Code of Conduct will be to demonstrate how fishermen themselves can provide seabed habitat information using the powerful acoustic systems already fitted to many of their vessels. This will help develop more accurate spatial management plans that will provide protection to sensitive seabed habitats and species whilst enabling the continuation of traditional scallop fisheries nearby.

Dr Tom Pickerell, Director of the SAGB, said: "The idea of rewarding fishermen for fishing responsibly is not new. At present, all dredging is viewed as 'bad' by many influential conservation organisations and there is a need provide the industry with an opportunity to demonstrate responsible dredging of scallops. By agreeing a code of practise with other stakeholders we can move away from the dredged versus dived debate and create a third way – responsibly dredged, or 'seabed friendly', scallops."

the Fish Site Editor

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