Time For Action – Save Our Seabed


Queen scallop by Amy Lewis

Welsh Scallop fishery consultation

The Welsh Government had suspended the consultation due to technical glitches with the online form. This has now been resolved and the consultation has been reopened with a closing date of the 17th Feb 2016.

All responses already submitted using the original method should be resubmitted in case they weren’t received as intended.

Please write directly to Welsh Government and send your letter in either by Email or Post:

Scallop Consultation, Marine & Fisheries Division, Llys-y-Draig, Penllergaer Business Park, Penllergaer, Swansea, SA4 9NX.

On the 14th October 2015 the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant launched a Welsh Government consultation entitled “Proposed New Management Measures for the Scallop Fishery in Cardigan Bay”.


The History
Cause for Concern
What Can You Do?

Cast your minds back to the winter of 2008/2009, at this time if you were to look out to sea at night you may have seen a myriad of shining lights on the horizon – these were the lights from fishing boats, fishing for scallops.

Queen Scallop by Polly Whyte

Queen Scallop by Polly Whyte

At that time the fishing was reportedly good and there was an influx of vessels into Cardigan Bay from all around the UK and further afield all wanting to take advantage of a good thing!

Following this, concerns were raised over the amount of dredging taking place and the impact on the features of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This led to the closure of all Welsh territorial waters to scallop dredging in 2009.

In 2010 the Welsh Government introduced a new piece of legislation, opening up an area of sea within the Cardigan Bay SAC within which scallop dredging was allowed to once again take place.

This area is commonly referred to as the “Kaiser box” and allows a restricted fishery to occur on a seasonal basis which continues to date.

Why is dredging a cause for concern?

It is well documented that the process of dredging can alter the seabed habitat and diversity through the movement and disturbance of the seabed (Dayton et al 1995, Kaiser et al., 1996).

Newhaven scallop dredger

Newhaven scallop dredger

Fishing for scallops with the toothed Newhaven dredges commonly used around the United Kingdom (UK) has been considered one of the most damaging of all fishing gears to non-target benthic communities and habitats (Kaiser et al., 2006).

Changes to the physical structure of the seabed can occur (Collie et al., 2000) as well as changes to the seabed community structure (Dayton et al., 1995).

Larger sediment, such as cobbles, are picked up and bought to the surface in the dredge itself and discarded away from source. Other impacts include sediment compaction, and chemical changes caused by the disturbance of the seabed (Sciberras et al., 2013).

Dredges can damage reef structures and other vulnerable seabed habitats and features as well as impacting non-target species.

The long-term impact on the marine ecosystem as a whole, including all species, in particular species further up the food chain is largely unknown.

The current consultation includes the Welsh Government’s recommendations for the establishment of a viable and sustainable scallop fishery within the Cardigan Bay SAC. There has been little or no pre-consultation engagement with wider stakeholders other than representatives from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), scientists; its not clear which scientists were consulted with, and industry representatives.

The Welsh Government proposals include the introduction of a scallop permit scheme allowing those with a permit to dredge for scallops anywhere in the Cardigan Bay area within the 3 to 12 nautical mile zone, subject to certain conditions that would be applied on an annual basis.

These recommendations are based on a study conducted in the Cardigan Bay SAC, undertaken by Bangor University in collaboration with the industry during 2014 and early 2015.

This study investigated the impact that scallop dredging may have on the SAC and its wildlife. However, this study fails to take into account the fact that the seabed has already been damaged by previous dredging activity.

Until 2010, over two thirds of the Cardigan Bay SAC were open to scallop dredging, creating modified seabed habitats throughout the whole of Cardigan Bay. We do not believe using a previously dredged area of the SAC as a baseline is adequate justification for permitting further damaging activity; a more appropriate control would have been a pristine area of seabed.

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales are in the process of writing a formal response to this consultation. Please keep an eye on future e-news publications and our website for further information.

The consultation document can be downloaded in pdf format from the Welsh Government website.

Please write directly to Welsh Government and send your letter in either by Email or Post:

Scallop Consultation, Marine & Fisheries Division, Llys-y-Draig, Penllergaer Business Park, Penllergaer, Swansea, SA4 9NX.

Please note that Welsh Government intends to publish the responses received. This includes publishing the name and address of the person or organisation that sent the response.

If you do not want your name or address published then you must notify Welsh Government of this in writing. We suggest writing that you do not wish your personal data (name or address) to be published under any circumstances, clearly at the top of your letter of response.

We advise those wishing to respond to write directly to the Welsh Government, rather than use the online response form provided by the Welsh Government. The consultation is due to close on the 5th January 2015 and we strongly urge you to voice your opinions; have your say and respond to this consultation.

Collie, J.S., Escanero, G.A., and Valentine, P.C. 2000. Photographic evaluation of the impact of bottom fishing on benthic epifauna – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 57: 987-1001.

Dayton, P. K., S. F. Thrush, M. T. Agardy, and R. J. Hofman. 1995. Environmental effects of marine fishing. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 5:205-232.

Kaiser MJ, Hill AS, Ramsay K, Spencer BE and others (1996) Benthic disturbance by fishing gear in the Irish Sea: a comparison of beam trawling and scallop dredging. Aquat Conserv 6:269−285

Kaiser MJ, Clarke KR, Hinz H, Austen MCV, Somerfield PJ, Karakassis I (2006) Global analysis of response and recovery of benthic biota to fishing. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 311:1−14

Sciberras. M., Hinz, H., Bennell, J., Jenkins, S., Hawkns, S., Kaiser, M., 2013. Benthic community response to a scallop dredging closue within a dynamic seabed habitat. Marine Ecology Progress Series 480, 83-98.