Date lodged: 27 March 2018
To ask the Scottish Government, in light of its response to the consultation on electrofishing for razor clams in Scotland in April 2017, which stated that "in due course, the Government will confirm one or possibly two trial areas where, following initial stock assessments, a limited number of fishing vessels will be permitted to harvest razor clams by electrofishing", what the (a) policy and (b) legal basis was for its decision to designate 12 razor clam electrofishing trial sites, which constitute almost 10% of Scottish inshore waters and 10 of which are already operational.
Answered by: Fergus Ewing 26 April 2018
Further to consultation with fishermen and other interested parties the Scottish Government considered that it was possible, and potentially more informative, to undertake a trial over a larger number of clearly defined areas than was initially anticipated in the consultation response document of April 2017. It is considered that a trial over a larger number of areas has the potential to involve significantly greater economic benefits than a more limited trial, in the light of recent recorded landing figures and views expressed about the abundance of razor clams in a number of areas around the coast. In addition it is considered that it is possible to monitor effectively activity over the areas selected for the trial, in light of the conditions attached to vessel derogations and having regard to the use of electronic monitoring equipment that will be installed on-board fishing vessels. The Scottish Government will keep the trial under review and reserves the right to close areas to further fishing at any time during the trial period. The legal basis of the trial is Article 43 of EC Regulation 850/98.