The Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Group (IFG) has approached Marine Scotland to legislate on management proposals it has developed to help improve the sustainability of these fisheries through the regulation of harvesting controls.
Landings of brown crab, velvet crab and lobster were worth £2.7 million to the economy of the Outer Hebrides in 2012 – and more when processing and other related activities are included.
The IFG’s proposals include:
- increasing the minimum landing sizes of brown crab, velvet crab and lobster
- prohibiting the landing of larger female lobsters in the area
IFGs are non-statutory bodies whose purpose is to help improve the management of Scotland’s inshore fisheries out to six nautical miles. One of their key aims is to put commercial fishermen – assisted by Government Agencies and others with an interest in the marine environment – at the heart of developing initiatives for sustainable and profitable fisheries.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “I have always said that Scottish fishermen lead the way in Europe with their commitment to sustainable practices and the proposals in this consultation are a good example of that. Fishing is very important to the local economy with crab and lobster landings worth £2.7 million in 2012 and much more to the wider economy.
“I am delighted to see local fishing interests come together and develop management proposals to help ensure the long-term sustainability of their fisheries.”
Duncan MacInnes, Secretary, Western Isles Fishermen’s Association said: “We welcome Marine Scotland’s consultation paper which begins the implementation process in taking forward management measures that will promote stock sustainability by helping to increase yield and spawning stock biomass for brown crab, velvet crab and lobster, which are the three most important species by value for the static gear fleet operating within the IFG area.
“Extensive consultation has already taken place amongst key stakeholders in developing a Management Plan for the Outer Hebrides IFG area, which will lead to more profitable, sustainable and well managed inshore fisheries for the benefit of fishermen, the market and the stocks.”