March 7, 2016 Featured Article Read More →

Has MPA management compromised the fate of the common skate?

The 168lb skate being released at the side of the boat

The 168lb skate being released at the side of the boat

As an IUCN Critically Endangered species, the common skate is somewhat ironically named. Once found throughout Europe, deep sea lochs on the West coast of Scotland are now one of their last strongholds. However, the latest Scottish Government measures introduced to protect this majestic, but sadly all-too-rare creature, whilst a major step forward, are still at risk of being jeopardised by short-termist compromise.

Some areas – once identified as potentially crucial to the recovery of the common skate – will now remain open seasonally to bottom-towed fishing. These ‘derogations’ were called for mainly by those working in the mobile sector of the fishing industry. However, they were not supported by all fishermen and commercial interests. Others – including static fishermen and scallop divers – had hoped that these areas would be included in a full ban on mobile fishing to give the seabed a chance to recover, as well as improving the commercial and recreational fishing opportunities and access. Amongst these ‘derogations,’ a small group of islands known as the Green Isles (north of Salen), which are surrounded by fragile underwater reefs, have been left open to scallop dredging and are just two kilometres outside of the zone prohibiting bottom-towed fishing – despite serious concerns expressed via public consultation.

To read the full article please visit the Save Scottish Sea Website.

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