UK and FRANCE - Around 55 delegates, including scallop fishers, policy managers, NGOs, and scientists, from both sides of the Channel met this week to develop a regional management plan for the Scallop Channel fishery.
The Channel scallop fishery made headlines in 2012 following a dispute between French and British fishers, who clashed in an area close to the French coast, near the Bay of Seine. Since that time, French and UK industry leaders, national administrations, and others with an interest in this valuable fishery, have made real progress to resolve the conflict and take conciliatory action towards positive change.
The GAP2 Project, an EU funded initiative, has helped build on this optimism by creating a participatory environment for industry and others to come together to talk about opportunities and challenges facing the fishery.
The GAP team organised the first workshop in Brixham, UK last April and building on this progress organised a second gathering of fishers, scientists, policy-makers, and NGOs, which took place last week in Port en Bessin, France.
Putting the ‘scallop wars’ behind them, industry leaders and others with a stake in this valuable fishery worked hard to develop concrete actions and next steps towards building a sustainable, profitable future for scallop fishing in the Channel.
Giles Bartlett of WWF UK summarised the workshop: “The workshop was a success and built on the collective outputs of Brixham to create an output-focused, commitment-driven event. There were clear calls for action around key topics, including:
- Elevating the role of industry in enhancing the scientific knowledge base for the scallop fishery. This should include innovative approaches to data collection - with fishermen at the heart of exploring the use and relevance of new data collection methods and tools;
- Creating a robust governance framework to support the continuation of this work and achieve shared goals to improve the biological, social and economic performance of the fishery;
- Establishing a group of UK and French scientists to develop a regional set of protocols to improve scallop stock assessment across the Channel Fishery;
- Exploring the potential for UK industry to undertake a selectivity trial of the French specification dredges, which use larger rings that are thought to improve selectivity by allowing smaller scallops to escape, mature and reproduce.
Erin Priddle, EDF – UK Manager, added: “It is vital that industry, scientists, policy makers, and NGOs build on the momentum of this event to secure commitment for, and development of, a regional management plan. Working in partnership will be key to success, where mutual goals and a shared vision will help secure the future health and profitability of this economically and culturally important fishery.”
Jim Portus from SWFPO added: “Everybody knows how important scallops are to France, but now we [in France] understand how important they are to the UK. We can build on the progress made in Brixham and can now focus on achieving a sustainable and profitable industry in the future.”
Daniel Lefevre of the Channel group of the NWW AC said: “The main issue is data sharing and reliable data for scientific researchers. The Channel is our shared garden, and managing the resource is possible only if we agree. Scientists need us and we need them, it’s a two-way exchange. We can’t define a long-term management plan without shared measures. There is still a lot of work to do, but with the will, we can achieve anything. I think a Scallop management group has to be created.”
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TheFishSite News Desk