The Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has announced new management measures for the Scallop fishery in Cardigan Bay following an extensive consultation.
The consultation followed a two-year programme of wide-ranging research by Bangor University, in collaboration with the fishing industry, within the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation.
This was the first study of its kind and found some fishing activity is possible, within specific areas, with no adverse impact on the Special Area of Conservation. This research offers a unique opportunity to implement an ecosystem based approach to management of the fishery.
Two further independent scientific peer reviews, of the evidence presented by Bangor University, were carried out and concluded this to be of robust and high scientific merit.
Based on this research and after considering all 5,500 responses to the consultation, the Cabinet Secretary has decided to proceed with a new flexible permit scheme within Cardigan Bay.
This includes careful management of the fishery, which will apply appropriate conditions to maximise the fishery and protect the site features at all times; a management advisory board including science, industry and environmental representatives to provide advice to the Welsh Government on permit conditions and an annual consultation to seek views on the conditions to be applied, keeping stakeholders involved in developments in the fishery.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“It is clear a lot of people care deeply about our marine environment and the species that live there. In making this decision I have taken this into account, as well as very carefully considering all 5,500 responses to the consultation alongside the further scientific evidence to help achieve a balance within Cardigan Bay.
“Based on this and the fact no new evidence was produced to suggest this fishery would have an impact on the protected features within the Bay, I have decided we should not stand in the way of economic activity and I will, therefore, continue with new legislation to introduce a flexible permit scheme within Cardigan Bay.
“I want to reassure everyone this will be a carefully and proactively managed fishery, with the number of fishing boats being monitored. I am reassured the proposed new flexible approach is proportionate and will enable us to consider appropriate areas and management mechanisms for the future of this fishery.
“This new management regime will place Wales at the forefront of international efforts to sustainably manage its natural resources through a joint and innovative approach.”
The peer review of Bangor University research can be found here.