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Written - Scallop Dredging in Cardigan Bay
I have become increasingly concerned about the level of scallop fishing within Cardigan Bay. I understand that the North Western and North Wales Sea Fisheries Committee, who currently lead in fisheries Management in the inshore region which covers Cardigan Bay, already has temporary closures in place to prohibit scallop dredging and that the restrictions, that run until the end of May, extend from between one and a half to 6 nautical miles out to sea. The Welsh Assembly Government also has restrictions in place covering the minimum landing size for scallops and the types of gear that can be used. This legislation also extends further prohibition for scallop dredging between 1 June and 31 October each year. In addition, the Welsh Federation of Fishermens Associations (WFFA) has been proactive in negotiating a code of practice between the scalloping industry and other commercial fishing interests to minimise the potential for static fishing gear being towed away by scallop dredging.
Whilst I recognise there are a number of measures in place, I want to be sure that these are the most effective to manage scallop dredging activity. I have already asked officials to work with the Countryside Council for Wales and Welsh Industry representatives to determine whether the management of scallop fishing can be further improved. Today I have asked officials to write to the North Western and North Wales Sea Fisheries Committee to ask them to consider extending the area of their existing temporary scallop prohibition in Cardigan Bay out to 6 nautical miles until the end of the season on 31 May.
I have also asked officials to review the basis for the current Scallop Fishing (Wales) Order and to commission research into the sustainability of the scallop fishery with a view to bring forward more effective controls for the future. These could include such measures as the further restriction of dredge numbers, tow beam lengths, limits to vessel engine power, further area closure and possible curfews. I aim to consult on new proposals during the summer and implement the new scallop Order in time for next season’s scallop fishery.