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Great Opportunity For Manx Scallop Fishery 5 November 2007

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has, for more than 20 years, commissioned Liverpool University, and more recently Bangor University, to undertake a pre-season survey of the Island’s different scallop beds. These surveys provide an invaluable long-term dataset on the trends within the fishery, as well as giving an indication of likely catch rates in the coming season.

The 2007 survey, undertaken from the Manx fishing vessel Sarah Lena, showed that one particular bed of scallops off Peel are 20 times denser than any other bed seen in more than 20 years of surveys. This huge increase is due to a single year class of scallops, that are currently 2 years old. They will not mature and reach the minimum landing size of 110mm until 2008-9.

Speaking today, Phil Gawne MHK, said ‘Scientists have never before seen such a high concentration of juvenile scallops in Manx waters. This population, if given a chance to grow and spawn before capture, could be of huge benefit to Manx fishermen and processors in years to come. Scientific advice is that all dredging activity should cease on this bed until the juveniles have reached 110mm.’

Having consulted with the industry the Minister conceded that a formal temporary closure is unlikely to be introduced. ‘I understand from Manx Fish Producers Organisation that fishermen are unwilling for the Department to bring in legal protection for these juvenile scallops, but I would nevertheless ask that all fishermen respect a voluntary closure of the area until these scallops have reached maturity. The Department will continue to charter local vessels to monitor the growth of these juveniles until they reach the legal minimum size.’

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