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MSPs to Investigate Closure of Fishing in Firth of Clyde: Share Your Views

The sudden closure of all fishing activities in the Firth of Clyde by the Scottish Government came as a shock to the local communities there.

With no consultation with the small vessels who fish sustainably the complete closure has meant the loss of income and perhaps even of their livelihood for many on the west coast of Scotland.

A committee of the Scottish Parliament will now look into this decision. The Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee wants your views on The Sea Fish (Prohibition on Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) Order 2022 (SSI 2022/5).

Prohibition on fishing

3.  Fishing for sea fish by any method, by any British fishing boat, is prohibited in the area comprising that part of the Scottish zone contained within—

(a)that part of ICES statistical rectangle 39E4 which lies to the east of the peninsula of Kintyre and to the north of a straight line between 55°18′18″ north latitude, 05°38′50″ west longitude and 55°00′30″ north latitude, 05°09′24″ west longitude, and

(b)that part of ICES statistical rectangle 39E4 which lies north of a straight line between 55°17′57″ north latitude, 05°47′54″ west longitude and 55°00′00″ north latitude, 05°21′00″ west longitude and to the south of a straight line between 55°18′18″ north latitude, 05°38′50″ west longitude and 55°00′30″ north latitude, 05°09′24″ west longitude

This Order prohibits all methods of fishing within specified areas of the Firth of Clyde from 14 February to 30 April, during both 2022 and 2023 (articles 1(3) and 3). The Order remains in force until the end of 30 April 2023. The Order applies only to British fishing boats.

Since 2001, a specific area in the Firth of Clyde has been closed to fishing each year for 11 weeks between 14th February and 30th April to protect spawning cod. The closure is implemented by a Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI). The purpose of this closure is to protect cod from disturbance from fishing activity during spawning and promote recovery of the stock.

In previous years, the SSI provided exemptions for Nephrops (langoustine) trawlers, creels and scallop dredgers. The 2022 Order, removes all exemptions, meaning that fishing activity by any method would be prohibited during the seasonal closure.

The Scottish Government states that “Despite the ongoing seasonal closure, the stock has shown little sign of recovery and as such the Scottish Government has removed the exemptions to maximise numbers.”

Clyde Cod Seasonal (February to April) Closure for 2022 and 2023

Letter to the Convener from the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, 17 January 2022

Dear Finlay,

Clyde Cod Seasonal (February to April) Closure for 2022 and 2023

I am writing to inform you of the Order being laid today regarding the seasonal closure in the Firth of Clyde which aims to protect spawning cod and promote recovery of the West of Scotland stock. This seasonal closure, in place since 2001, spans an 11 week period between February and April each year.

As you will be aware, the Sea Fish (Prohibition on Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) Order 2021 was laid in December 2021 with the previous exemptions in place for certain fishing methods and the intention was to review these exemptions in 2022. However, upon further reflection, I believe that this approach is no longer appropriate. Despite the ongoing seasonal closure, the stock has shown little sign of recovery and as such the Scottish Government has removed the exemptions to maximise numbers.

I have therefore taken the decision to revoke The Sea Fish (Prohibition on Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) Order 2021 and replace it with The Sea Fish (Prohibition on Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) Order 2022 which continues the spawning closure for 2022 and 2023 without any exemptions.

This will create consistency with management measures in other areas, including the UK National North Sea Cod Avoidance Plan, which covers closure areas for all gear types (excluding pelagic), and the recent emergency Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation in the Inner Sound and related Marine Conservation Order, which includes prohibition on creeling and diving in order to protect the critically endangered flapper skate nursery area.

This is also in line with the commitments set out in the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens and our shared aim to restore marine habitats in Scotland’s inshore waters.

I hope that this information is helpful.

Yours Sincerely,

Mairi Gougeon

How to submit your views

Link to the online submission form

The call for views closes on 2 February 2022.

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