An interim agreement has been reached to limit the fishing of queenie scallops by local boats.
The Isle of Man Queen Scallop Management Board (IOMQSMB) met on July 1 and put together a package of measures in response to the severely depleted levels of queenie scallop stock.
After research carried out in May, Bangor University, which advises the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), found stocks were 53 per cent below historic levels and 88 per cent below the peak population of 2011-12.
Initially DEFA imposed a two-week fishing period, starting on July 2, when there were to be limits on daily catch, number of days at sea and queenie grounds were to be opened in rotation.
That has been superseded by the new agreement, aimed at striking a balance between protecting stocks and enabling the Manx fleet to generate an income from this fishery.
From yesterday, July 7, fishing for queenie scallops within Manx territorial waters was limited to three days per week between Monday and Thursday only and from 6am to 4pm. All catches must be landed to a port in the island, subsequent processing elsewhere is permitted.
All vessels must complete and submit catch return forms on a daily basis and carry a data logger on board, to provide additional data on their fishing activity
Areas at the Targets, east of Douglas, off the Point of Ayre and south of the Chickens are closed to queenie scallop fishing.
A total of 500 tonnes of queenie scallops can be caught in July, with no more than 1,400kg per day, per boat
This agreement is in force for the next few weeks and the IOMQSMB will meet again later this month to review fishing activity and agree measures for August onwards.
Richard Ronan MHK, the new Minister for the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ‘I am very aware of the difficulties faced by the fishing industry as we try to balance the recovery of this fishery for the future against the importance of enabling our fishermen to earn a living.
‘In addition to the measures agreed, my department is working on a tie-up and diversification scheme to further assist our fishermen during this difficult year. I look forward to working with the industry to find the best ways forward through this situation.’
There was no comment from the Manx Fish Producers’ Organisation whose chief executive David Beard said: ‘We are in discussions with government and do not want to pre-empt those discussions.’