Ayrshire: Campaigners call for protection of Clyde cod
Ayrshire marine conservation activists say current measures to improve cod stocks in the Firth of Clyde offer no protection against activities most likely to harm spawning grounds.
The government recently conducted its biannual review of protection measures for Clyde cod.
An area of the Firth of Clyde is temporarily closed each year so that the cod can reproduce undisturbed. However, there are exemptions so that certain fishing methods can continue without interruption, including bottom trawling and scallop dredging.
The Our Seas coalition urges the people of the Clyde to advocate for the regeneration of fish populations in the Firth of Clyde and to support more guarantees for cod spawning grounds.
Jenny Crockett of Arran Coast, member of Our Seas, was one of those calling for action.
She said: “One of the biggest flaws in this legislation is that trawling and dredging is allowed in the closed area, negating any benefit of ‘protecting’ the spawning grounds.”
“Fisheries management measures tend to focus on controlling the amount of fish caught and technical measures regarding the fishing gear that supports them, although these measures are important, protecting critical habitat for the life cycle of the fishery. target fish must be a more important part of the overall approach to fisheries management.
“Research shows the crucial role of seabed habitat in supporting the early life stages of fish like cod, and that seabed biodiversity affects the abundance and growth of juvenile demersal fish.
“So it is time for the Scottish Government to approach the protection of fisheries in the Clyde with an ecosystem approach to protect critical habitats, such as cod spawning grounds. ”
Ailsa McLellan, Our Seas Coalition Coordinator, added: ‘These measures are clearly not working, this is one of the many examples of the Scottish Government talking about a good game when it comes to marine and fisheries management. , while not doing anything effective to improve the situation.
“The cod stock in the west of Scotland has collapsed, with no signs of population recovery. How can we expect fish populations to recover without changing fisheries management?
“Catch limits are continually set above scientific advice and there is no monitoring or enforcement of the discard ban.
“The Nephrops trawler fleet is known to capture and discard significant numbers of cod as bycatch, and both trawling and dredging have an impact on the seabed as heavy gear is towed behind the boats, it therefore makes no sense that these fishing methods are permitted in an area that is supposed to be closed for the benefit of cod conservation.
Our Seas coalition calls for urgent reestablishment of a coastal limit on the use of bottom fishing gear towed around Scottish coasts to stop and reverse damage to habitats, carbon sinks and fishing by trawling shrimp and scallop dredging.