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Scottish Fishermen Criticise Scallop Fishing Portrayal

14 February 2013

SCOTLAND - An inaccurate and negative portrayal of scallop fishing that will be aired as part of the ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight’ Channel 4 TV series has come under stinging criticism from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF).

The SFF fears the three-programme series, which begins this week, will offer a totally imbalanced and distorted view of the scallop fishing sector, which supports many jobs and provides consumers with a much valued and sustainable food resource.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said: “Scallop fishermen depend upon abundant scallop stocks and a healthy marine environment and are committed to the protection of marine biodiversity.

Scallops prefer to live in less sensitive habitats such as sand and gravel, which are naturally dynamic environments due to the movement of water on the seabed from currents, tides and waves and this is where scallop fishermen concentrate their efforts.

“Scallop fishermen avoid areas where there are unusual marine features and fully support the need for protecting ecologically important habitats and species. Scallop fishermen have also pioneered the use of state-of-the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) technology to aid this process.

“The scallop industry has been involved in a number of environmental initiatives in recent years such as the development of a ‘Good Practice Guide for Scallops’, which includes the commitment to work in partnership with fishery and conservation managers, and the Statutory Nature Conservation Agencies to ensure that scallop fishing activities avoid damage or disturbance to sensitive seabed habitats and protected sites.

We have also been proactively involved in a number of gear trials with different styles of dredges to improve the selectivity of the gear and mitigate any impact on the seabed.

“Scalloping only utilises a very small part of the seabed with vessels consistently fishing the same areas decade after decade. To imply that the scallop sector causes wide scale damage is both disingenuous and disproportionate.”

Mr Armstrong finished by saying that without sustainable, hand-caught scallops the food would be the reserve of the rich elite. Two per cent of Scallops are caught this way and create 600 fishing sector jobs and 750 processing plant jobs around the coast.

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