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Updated: 1 hour 47 min ago

Marine Protected Area receives permanent protection for the critically endangered flapper skate

Thu, 2023-02-09 12:34

The Red Rocks and Longay Marine Protected Area (MPA), in the Inner Sound of Skye will be permanently designated from 9 February 2023 protecting a flapper skate egg-laying site of national importance from various activities. These include certain types of fishing, recreational sea angling, marine deposit sites/waste disposal, aquaculture, marine infrastructure and anchoring, amongst others. The Marine Conservation Order lists all prohibited activities.

This MPA is the largest flapper skate nursery site in Scotland with over 1000 eggs being recorded so far. Flapper skate eggs are vulnerable to disturbance and take 18 months to hatch making this a site of national importance for the conservation of the species.

Flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius) were historically abundant in the North-east Atlantic and widely distributed in the seas surrounding the British Isles, however its range has reduced significantly and catch rates declined throughout the 20th century. The flapper skate now occurs largely in the northern North Sea and off Scotland’s north-west coast.

It was once thought that flapper skate and blue skate were the same species, called common skate. Flapper skate and blue skate (Dipturus batis) are now known as separate species as part of the common skate complex. Common skate are a protected feature of the Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura MPA.

The fishing vessel licence conditions states a fishing vessel must not be present within the MPA other than when travelling at a speed of greater than six knots, with some exceptions for example force majeure, adverse weather conditions or fishing for pelagic species with trawl or encircling nets. Fishing vessel license conditions will be updated to reflect the allowance of fishing vessels to be stationary or travelling under 6 knots in the Red Rocks and Longay MPA if they are fishing for scallops by hand following permanent designation.

A permit can also be acquired to allow particular activities which would otherwise be prohibited within the MPA, so long as they are for the purpose of scientific research and there is no significant risk of the particular activities hindering the achievement of the stated conservation objectives.

The public consultation on the proposal to designate Red Rocks and Longay as a permanent MPA closed in April 2022 and the public responses along with the consultation analysis have now been published.

Scottish Ministers laid the Red Rocks and Longay Marine Conservation Order 2022 in Parliament on 15 December 2022.

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Bilateral agreement on 2023 fish quotas reached between EU and UK

Tue, 2022-12-20 14:01

UK-EU negotiations have now concluded, with agreement on key shared stocks in the North Sea and West of Scotland, as well as other coastal waters around the UK, with an estimated value of £149.6 million to Scotland.

Among the stocks covered by this agreement are North Sea and West of Scotland nephrops, hake, monkfish and ling, as well as Rockall haddock and cod and West of Scotland whiting and cod.

This year parties also took the decision to remove Spurdog from its prohibited species list following positive scientific advice from the International Committee for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). The UK will take forward appropriate legislation in the New Year.

Negotiations took place over November and early December 2022. Both parties acknowledged the importance of responsible and sustainable management of the stocks under discussion and the need to achieve agreement before the end of the calendar year to give certainty to fishermen for 2023.

A full list of stocks will be available in the Written Record (WR) from page 18 which sets out Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and related management measures for stocks of key importance to the Scottish industry, including monkfish, hake and ling.

The jointly-managed TACs in the WR have been set at sustainable levels, taking into account advice from the ICES. In some cases, a TAC restraint has been applied to manage the large increases and decreases found in the scientific advice (which could negatively impact the industry and the markets). Where it has been applied, this incremental approach moves stocks closer to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) while avoiding significant fluctuations in TACs which would be economically damaging.

As part of these negotiations the UK and EU reach decisions on the TACS for over 70 stocks.

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Outcome of Coastal States consultation on mackerel, blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring

Fri, 2022-12-09 13:17

Coastal States consultations have now concluded with agreement on 2023 catch limits for shared pelagic stocks, including mackerel, blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring.

The agreed records which were signed on 4 November 2022 for Atlanto-Scandian herring and 6 December 2022 for mackerel, blue whiting and control measures, set out Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and management measures for all three stocks of key importance to Scotland’s fishing fleet. The agreed record on control measures for pelagic stocks in the North-East Atlantic, including the stocks above, is to ensure consistency between the Parties on control and enforcement of the stocks.

For all three stocks, the TACs were set in line with advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), equating to the following tonnage and changes compared with the catch limits set for 2022:

  • Mackerel 782,066 tonnes (-1.62%)
  • Blue whiting 1,359,629 tonnes (+80.62%)
  • Atlanto-Scandian herring 511,171 tonnes (-14.60%)

Scotland strongly advocated for the TAC for blue whiting to be set at a more precautionary level and that Parties should support greater stability in the stock going forward, in line with TAC constraint principles. This preference for the UK is stated in the agreed record.

The agreed records also underline the importance of continuing discussions in early 2023 to agree new comprehensive sharing arrangements for these stocks. This remains a key priority for Scotland, and officials will continue to put full energy behind the discussions to ensure the long-term sustainability for the benefit of Scotland into the future.

The Coastal States and Fishing Parties in the North-East Atlantic are the UK, EU, Norway, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Russian Federation.

In line with the UK and Scotland’s overarching approach to this year’s negotiations, including our commitment to sustainable management of stocks and wider political considerations, the UK did not co-sign the same Atlanto-Scandian herring agreed record as the Russian Federation (Russia is a Coastal State for Atlanto-Scandian herring), and instead signed a separate, identical version.

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Scottish Marine Energy Research Symposium 2023

Wed, 2022-12-07 10:00

Registration is now open for the upcoming Scottish Marine Energy Research (ScotMER) Symposium, which will run for three days from 31 January 2023.

The fifth annual symposium, supported by delivery partner Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) will present recent research on seabirds, mammals, fish and socioeconomics and will be held virtually, which means there will be a wider programme of talks and topics ranging from unique Scottish reefs to seabird behaviour in the sky available to attend for free.

These symposiums are organised as an opportunity to present ScotMER’s findings to representatives from environmental organisations, renewables and fishing industries, regulatory and advisory bodies, and academics.

Blue Economy

ScotMER aligns with our Blue Economy vision, which promotes the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of marine and coastal ecosystem. It supports the Scottish Government’s climate change ambitions, by providing scientific evidence to promote sustainable developments of the offshore renewables industry.

The three-day event will be delivered entirely online and is free of charge. It is open to all to attend, and we look forward to welcoming a diverse audience from academia, industry, non-governmental organisations and the public.

To secure your place please visit the ScotMER Symposium registration page. The programme, including speakers and further details will be available soon.

Further information:



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