We recently voiced our concerns about a seafood eco-labelling process for a scallop dredge fishery and have been publicly criticised for doing so. Polarised debate is clearly not in anyone’s interests, but we take accusations about our use of evidence and accuracy very seriously, and so here lay out our evidence and the reasons why our concerns remain accurate and valid. [Read more…]
Open Seas’ mission is to promote more sustainable fishing in Scotland. It is with some regret that we are now challenging the proposed re-certification of the scallop dredge fishery in Shetland. Unfortunately the possible re-certification of scallop dredging here, under its current management regime, risks green-washing an important certification standard that should represent a benchmark for sustainability.
Scallop dredging is one of the UK’s most damaging forms of fishing. Dredge boats tow heavy rakes with metal teeth several inches long that dig into the seabed, dredging out the scallops. In April of 2017 the severity of damage caused by scallop dredging was revealed when a vessel towed through a well-known flame shell reef in Loch Carron. The killing of species other than scallops and the flattening of seabed habitats, means dredging has and continues to have a profoundly negative impact on the health of our seas. However, it does not have to be this way. Dredging in some [Read more…]
Wrasse are beautiful, charismatic fish that play a key role in the ecosystems of Scottish inshore waters. However, as Scottish salmon farmers now look to ‘cleaner fish’ as a way to address the industry’s sea lice problem, rising commercial demand is having potentially catastrophic impacts on wild stocks of wrasse. We take a look at the issue, find out what we know, what we don’t know and what we really should know about the environmental costs of the unprecedented demand for ‘cleaner fish.’ Our research indicates there is a systemic flaw in current fisheries management, which has failed to take precautionary steps to regulate this new fishery.
The sea lice problem
A big commercial concern for salmon farmers is sea lice: natural parasites that biologically weaken the health of salmon by feeding on their flesh and [Read more…]
A new industry report is shedding light on the economic and environmental opportunities and consequences of fishing for prawns in our inshore waters. It’s part of a broader story of regulatory inertia and environmental decline in our inshore fisheries. However, debate is now growing around the case for spatial management as a way to restore more sustainable fishing and rural employment in Scotland.
Prawns are a big deal for Scotland. ‘Nephrops’ are large orange-pink prawns sometimes called Dublin Bay prawns, langoustine and scampi. Back in the 1960s only a few tonnes were landed each year, but it is now our second most valuable stock, worth £79m.
Unfortunately, the emergence of this fishery has come at an environmental cost. People want [Read more…]
What happened in Loch Carron exemplifies a fundamental problem with the way we manage our inshore fisheries. How can we move forward?
This month a scallop dredger working along the west coast of Scotland, to the east of Skye and intermittently transmitting from its Automatic Information Service (AIS) transponder, entered Loch Carron. The vessel was observed in the sea loch – by several witnesses – towing around the area known to hold fragile and productive flame shell beds (we have spoken to several of these people directly). The flame shell reefs were well-known to many, and local fishermen attest that they hadn’t been dredged for at least 10 years, perhaps 15 or 20.
A squad of dedicated divers arrived at the site just a few days later and documented significant and extensive damage to [Read more…]
We published a paper in March 2017 about the impacts of Scottish MPAs. We re-publish it here in full.
- In early 2016 Scottish Government established fisheries restrictions in Scottish Marine Protected Areas to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.
- The ‘mobile’ fishing sector (i.e. the part of the fishing industry most likely to be affected by these MPA) raised many concerns about the negative impact the restrictions could have on coastal communities.
- A year has now passed and this analysis has been undertaken to assess what impacts the restrictions have had on landings of scallops and Nephrops (the two species most targeted by inshore fisheries) at several key Scottish ports.
- Assessment shows that landed weight and value have not been impacted at the majority of Scottish [Read more…]
We’re pretty chuffed about launching our website, so to celebrate we’re giving away my ma’s mackerel & beetroot recipe – totally free of charge, a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Around this time of year mackerel landings are tailing off so get some sustainable mackerel whilst you can. Even better, go out and catch some yourself, the fish will soon be returning to our sea lochs and [Read more…]