Seasonal Clyde Cod Spawning Closure (14 February – 30 April) includes new measures to strengthen stock recovery

January 13, 2022 by 13 Comments | Category Fisheries

Measures to protect spawning cod in the Firth of Clyde for the past 20 years will continue in 2022 and 2023, through the seasonal closure (between 14 February and 30 April) of the area to fishers.

Since its introduction, the Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) for the annual closure of the spawning ground has included exemptions to allow Nephrops trawlers, creels and scallop dredgers to continue to use the area, due to the low numbers of cod that they catch. However, despite the ongoing seasonal closure, the stock has shown little sign of recovery so the Scottish Government has removed these exemptions to maximise numbers.

During spawning, cod are extremely vulnerable to any activity impacting the seabed as fish are very territorial and unwilling to leave their mating areas (leks) and, as a result, are less likely to try and evade oncoming fishing gear. In addition, limiting physical disturbance during the spawning period will minimise disruption to the spawning environment and harness cod reproduction.

Removal of the exemptions will also create consistency with management in other areas, including the UK National North Sea Cod Avoidance Plan, which covers closure areas for all gear types (excluding pelagic), and the recent emergency Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation in the Inner Sound and related Marine Conservation Order, which includes prohibition on creeling and diving in order to protect the critically endangered flapper skate nursery area.

This represents a change to our previous position – for sound environmental and biodiversity reasons. It will have a short-term impact on local fishers given that the full closure of the fishery is for 11 weeks, but by taking action now, we hope to see the stock replenish which will ultimately be beneficial for fishing interests.

Some of the industry have queried why creel fishers have been included in the Clyde Cod spawning closure. This is a complex issue and evidence shows disturbance by any fishing method on or near the seabed could negatively impact or prevent cod spawning. Closing the fishery to everyone maximises its potential beneficial impact on protecting cod stocks.

This report was developed for North Sea Cod Discussions but is relevant here too as behaviours of West of Scotland Cod during this spawning period will be very similar.

The Clyde is now in-line with all of the seasonal area closures for spawning cod in the North Sea, which already prohibit all fishing that can cause any disturbance.

This change to the seasonal closure aligns with the commitments in the policy programme of the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens and our shared aim to restore marine habitats in Scotland’s inshore waters. We believe that this measure will provide a higher chance of stock recovery and contribute to a more sustainable fishery in the West of Scotland in the medium-longer term.

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  • Les Burt says:

    How can they say creels will affect the cod recovery absolute joke of trevose we have had a cod closure box for years and allowed to work creels in this area and made no disturbance at all .these mad restrictions made by people on high salary don’t care about local comunities the
    trevose cod box was suppose to be a temporary trial most fisherman think it been a waste of time and we not allowed to catch them anyway

  • Boyle Charles⁹ says:

    So no restrictions on shore Anglers attempting to cat h Cod,then again the S.F.S.A.have their own size catch rulings.

  • Hughie Smith says:

    Glad someone is starting to get something done it should have been years ago
    But I don’t think it is enough the sea bed is already destroyed it will take thousands of years to improve and after the small break from trawling when they start up again they will catch any fish in the area will have to stop trawling altogether

  • Kenneth Campbell says:

    As a fisherman fishing for lobster and crabs for 30 years in this area I have never landed a fin fish. With the prospect of losing 11 weeks income with only a months notice I also now have the added worry and expense of either finding somewhere to store over 600 creels ashore, or moving the gear more than 30 miles in an under 10 meter boat at a time of year when storms are commonplace. By relocating this would displace me onto another area causing strain on shellfish stocks there, also will probably lead to conflict with local fishers from that area as well as mobile fishing boats fishing those area. Does this sound fair or sensible?

  • John C Galbraith says:

    There is no cod spawning in the area that the fisheries minister is closing for eleven weeks to be disturbed by fishing activity and have been absent there for at least twenty years. The cod are now inhabiting the colder waters north of Scotland as global warming takes effect. The fact the minister has the power to act in this way without it being a proven fact that this action will result in a replenishment of the cod stock is alarming to say the least in a modern democracy like ours, such a notion is a fantasy . It is simply a disgrace that the rights of the people who live and work in the area affected have been swept aside without a second thought about the economic carnage that will be the result of this action by the minister. If by law, she had to compensate us financially for depriving us of our means of making a living, I don’t believe she would have been so quick to act. As I say, it is all for nothing, there will be no cod stock recovery resulting from this closure.

  • Terry Jack says:

    Are you trying to put an already struggling industry to the wall in the Clyde?

    This is a drastic measure on a without consulting or compensating

    It weakens relationship between industry and yourselves when it’s time to strengthen bonds to thrive to a sustainable future

  • Neil Matheson says:

    Where is the science in this?
    A political game being played to satisfy the Green party.
    Politics over ruling science has led to 150,000 Covid deaths. Are we now seeing the death of working class coastal communities in the Clyde.

  • Jon says:

    At last some common sense.

  • Richard longster says:

    These measures don’t go nearly far enough .
    The fourth of Clyde and all it’s inland lochs are like a baron wasteland. Fish stocks have been decimated for over thirty years now and I’ve watched it happen . The Thatcher years allowed inland shellfish dredging back then to a very healthy fish stock throughout the Clyde.
    Each year since, the fish numbers have dwindled to almost 0
    Back then most town around the Clyde had a recreational sea angling club with hundreds of members. Within a few years of the Dredging all these Clubs resined to the history books.
    The day Dredging started in the Clyde was the most short sighted move to ever happen in the History of this area and I fear it will never be stopped. Politics and greed will see to that.

  • David says:

    Although this might seam a big step forward I’d rather see fishing boats banned in the areas for years not just a small number of weeks each year I can’t see that making much of a difference to cod in general.
    It’s taken decades to get to this point it might we’ll take centuries to make a difference.

  • gordon cardy says:

    fantastic news – big thankyou to all involved

  • Barry McCrindle says:

    Unbelievable from marine Scotland being bullied by the Green Party, with the snp clinging onto a majority , hang your heads in shame marine Scotland, the money form the engos is greenwashing the whole west coast
    Marine Scotland is now not fit for purpose

  • John brown says:

    This is taking away our right to work the prawn trawlers here don’t catch any cod or any fish our nets are made with 300 mm square mesh in the top to let fish escape this is a total nonsense government putting up 100 million for modernising the fleet and now they want to close the fishing whoever makes up this needs to see someone to validate thier sanity

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