Scottish fishermen protest against the ban on creel shellfish catches in Clyde, dredge and trawl.

This move follows an announcement by the Scottish Government that it will lift customary exemptions from a seasonal ban in the area on white fish catches. The ban, which has been in effect for over 20 years, is important as a breeding ground for cod.

Scottish fishermen protest against the ban on creel shellfish catches in Clyde, dredge and trawl.

Marine Scotland has issued a statement stating that the closure of Firth of Cyde for fishers will continue between 14 February and 30 April 2022 and 2023. However, tighter controls will be in place.

The statement states that "Since its inception, the Scottish Statutory instrument for the annual closing of the spawning grounds has included exemptions to permit Nephrops trawlers and creels to continue using the area due to the low number of cod they catch."

"But, despite the seasonal closures, the stock has not shown any signs of recovery, so the Scottish Government removed these exemptions in order to maximize numbers."

It says, "This is a change from our previous position – for sound environmental and biological reasons."

Industry leaders condemned the ban saying it will have a severe impact on crews who depend on the area to make a living.

"Today's announcement from the Scottish Government will cause severe distress for fishermen who fish in the Clyde and have few or no other options during this period of closure," Elspeth Mcdonald, chief executive at Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF), stated.

"For many years, we have constructively engaged the Scottish Government in interactions between fisheries conservation and marine conservation. There are excellent examples of this approach that has served all parties well. It has also driven the desired results."

SSF accused the Scottish Government for failing to present evidence before it announced the ban. It is expected to be presented to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

Ms. Macdonald stated that decisions are made after a "clear and logical process" but not for the Clyde.

She said: "The botched handling by the Scottish Government of this particular issue has only served to undermine our faith in that process."

Insight: The Scottish fishing industry is worried about radical measures being taken to protect the marine environment

According to a spokesperson for the Scottish Government, "During spawning, cod can be extremely vulnerable to any activity that impacts the seabed. Limiting physical disturbances during spawning will minimize disruption to the spawning environment as well as promote cod reproduction."

We understand that this will have a temporary impact on local fishermen, but we believe that taking immediate action to replenish the stock over the long-term is beneficial to fishing."

However, sustainable fisheries campaigners welcome the increased restrictions as a small step towards protecting important fish habitats.

Phil Taylor, Head of Policy at Open Seas said that bottom-towed fishing has caused damage to seabed areas for 20 years, which is essential for the recovery and restoration of Scotland's west coast cod stocks.

"By eliminating these exemptions, Scotland's Government has rectified a long-standing error in fisheries management in Clyde.

He stated that the government's approach was not only wrong but necessary.

He said, "If we want to recover our marine ecosystems, sustainable fishery must be protected, encouraged, and incentivised."

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