Fishermen welcome new crab and lobster protection measures

Eyemouth fishmonger working at D R Collin.
Eyemouth fishmonger working at D R Collin.

New measures to protect Scottish shellfish will be of long-term benefit to Berwickshire’s fishing industry, according to an Eyemouth-based fish retailer.

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing announced last Friday that, following consultation, the Scottish Government will introduce new landing controls to improve the sustainability and management of the country’s crab and lobster fisheries.

That means that the minimum sizes of crab and lobster brought onto Scottish shores are to be increased, improving their overall quality and prices. The new measures will come into force later in the year.

James Cook, managing director of Eyemouth’s DR Collin (Fish), said: “We welcome this news, which is also generally welcomed by the industry as a whole. It is a very good thing for fishing stock, as well as for the future management of it.

“These measures have been very well thought out, as the stock will be better overall, both in quality and size, eventually leading to better prices, which we very much welcome.

“What we may well see is a slight loss at the beginning of its implementation as, over the first year, future stock is grown, but after that it will be a great improvement for sales.

“There’s a lot of fishing activity in the coastal communities of Berwickshire, and it is a growing sector. These measurements are of benefit to our industry in the long term.”

The minimum landing sizes for crab and lobster will be increased as follows – brown crab up from 130-140mm to 150mm, excluding Shetland; velvet crab, up from 65mm to 70mm; and lobster, up from 87mm to 90mm on the west coast, excluding the Solway Firth.

Additionally, the maximum landing size of female lobster will be decreased to 145mm, excluding Orkney and Shetland, and the landing of berried, or egg-bearing, velvet crab will be prohibited.

Commenting on the new measures, Mr Ewing said: “Scottish crab and lobster are an important part of the rural economy, fished by almost 1,400 creel vessels around the coast.

“Landings were worth £26.8m to the economy in 2015, helping to support many remote communities.

“These new measures are a forward step in achieving the vision set out in our inshore fisheries strategy and will contribute to developing a more sustainable, profitable and well-managed inshore fisheries sector in Scotland.”

Local fishermen’s views were sought by the Scottish Government last year during a consultation period on the conservation measures, and now the new landing sizes are agreed, the resulting regulations are expected to come into effect later this year.