Conservation Credits

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In 2008, Scotland embarked upon an new way of managing its fisheries within the context of the EU management regime. Under new EU regulation, Member States were given the opportunity to manage days at sea for their own vessels under a block allocation of kilowatt-days. Scotland as part of the UK chose to manage its fisheries in this way and in doing so was able to begin creating incentives for fishermen to engage in extra conser vation measures.

A cooperative management body was formed, known as the Conservation Credits Steering Group (CCSG) made up of government, scientists, environmental NGOs and industry. This group, along with sub-groups dealing with matters such as technical measures for more selective fishing gear, cooperate on the management of the Scottish fleet.

Measures introduced by the CCSG include a programme of seasonal and real-time closed areas which help to protect aggregations of cod, various selective gear measures including the “Orkney trawl”, larger square mesh panels and larger mesh cod ends. As well as these measures, an observer programme, the Independent  Onboard Observer Scheme (IOOS), managed by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation in conjunction with the Scottish Government, comprises of four sea-going observers and a data analyst, and provides around 500 days worth of fisheries data per year which helps to support the work of Marine Scotland Science as well as the CCSG. The IOOS is funded by the European Fisheries Fund.

The Observer Scheme for Fishing Effort Exclusion (OSFEE) was established in 2013 and aims to expand on the successful IOOS work by providing appropriate data on cod catches and discards relating to a group of vessels which may be excluded from the fishing effort regime.  The scheme will initially focus on vessels involved in the Nephrops fishery in the Clyde and West of Kintyre.

Conservation Credits has been an active group, advancing cooperation. However, given that in its original form it deals with management of days at sea at a time of falling availability, it has become increasingly difficult to create incentives. It has therefore been decided to build on the solid foundation created and expand the scope of the group to embrace the wider aspects of fisheries management. This will include a change in title to Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (FMAC).