Carl Sargeant Minister for Natural Resources
The Marine and Fisheries Strategic Action Plan for Wales, which was released on 26 November 2013, set out the Welsh Government’s ambitions in relation to the management of our fisheries. Those ambitions included the introduction of an ecosystems approach to the management of our seas, protecting and preserving natural resources and using healthy populations as the basis to drive sustainable economic growth.
Following an extensive research programme undertaken by Bangor University, my officials are considering the establishment of a viable and sustainable scallop fishery within a currently closed area within the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation.
The closure of this fishery in 2009 followed concerns that dredging activity was having a negative impact on the features of the site. The new evidence available now offers a unique opportunity to implement a truly ecosystem-based management within Cardigan Bay. The mechanism being considered is a Scallop permit scheme which will be applicable from 3 to 12 nautical miles.
Scallops have significant sustainable economic potential and it is estimated that a new management plan could increase the income into the Welsh economy by £6-10 million annually.
Preliminary stakeholder engagement has taken place with Fishermen’s Associations, Bangor University, Natural Resources Wales, Seafish Wales, Welsh Marine Fisheries Advisory Group and Welsh Inshore Fisheries Groups.
I have today launched a public consultation of the proposals for 12 weeks, with the intention of implementing the legal process for drafting new legislation introducing a new permit scheme in early 2016. Any new arrangements would come into effect from 1 November 2016; the arrangements for the upcoming fishery this winter, starting in a few weeks, would remain unchanged.