Moray Firth Inshore Fisheries Group

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					Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

            Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting
                                     30th April 2010

                Ramada Jarvis Hotel, Church Street, Inverness IV1 1DX

                                 Meeting Minutes


John Cox              Chairman
Jay MacKay            Deputy Chairman/Mallaig and North West Fishermen’s Assoc. /
                      Caithness Static Gear Fishermen’s Association
Jimmy Mitchell        Independent Fishermen’s Representative
Albert Ritchie        Fishermen’s Association Ltd
Hamish McPherson      Scottish White Fish Producer’s Association
John Watt             Anglo-Scottish Fishermen’s Association
Alex Watt             East Coast Licenced Small Boat Association
Sandy Patience        Fishermen’s Association Ltd
George Jack           Scallop Association/Mallaig & NW Fishermen’s Assoc.

Colin Warwick         Crown Estate Fisheries Liaison Officer
Josephine Henniker    Brown and May, CFLO Beatrice Offshore Wind Ltd
Roger May             Marine Scotland Compliance
Greg Allan            Marine Scotland Head of Inshore Fisheries and Communities
Anne McLay            Marine Scotland - Science
Duncan MacInnes       Co-ordinator Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Group
Allan Henderson       Chairman Mull and Small Isles Inshore Fisheries Group
Dan Edwards           Co-ordinator Mull and Small Isles Inshore Fisheries Group

Nick Lake             Co-ordinator


Iain Gatt             Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association
David Terry           Marine Scotland - Compliance
David Shiel           Anglo-Scottish Fishermen’s Association
Alan Coghill          Orkney Fisheries Association

1. Welcome, Introductions and Apologies

1.1 The Chairman welcomed and thanked all for attending. Apologies were noted.

1.2 John Cox invited Greg Allan to briefly update the group on developments within MS
Inshore Fisheries with particular relevance to the IFGs. Greg noted that the UK bid for
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

EFF Axis 4 funding to support fishing communities was being finalised with the
expectation that it would be shortly agreed by the EU Commission.

1.3 The Chairman recognised the interest in the Renewable Energy Developments item
and proposed to adjust the agenda accordingly to accommodate the invited guests with
Item 6 being taken first.

6. Renewable Energy Developments and Consultation with the Fishing Industry.

6.1 The Chairman introduced Josephine Henniker from Brown and May who had been
appointed as the Company Fisheries Liaison Officer (CFLO) for the Beatrice Offshore
Windfarm Ltd. (BOWL).

6.2 Josephine briefly outlined the background to the development of the site following
from the meeting with the MFIFG in October 2009. Major work areas have included the
publishing of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Report and the
assembling of relevant experts to form the EIA team. Both consultation on the EIA
process and physical survey work at the site had commenced.

6.3 The fishing industry had been informed of a geophysical survey which should be
completed by the end of May. Bird surveys were ongoing and the presence of marine
mammals was being assessed by Aberdeen University. The benthos surveys had yet to be
started while the collection of metocean data through deployment of survey buoys was

6.4 The assessment of the commercial fisheries interests was a key element of the CFLO
role including the need to secure baseline information on fisheries and fish stocks; this
together with the general fisheries ecology of the area was an extremely important aspect
of the overall evaluation process. Fish surveys would be undertaken as part of the overall
EIA and it was important to note that Marine Scotland would not comment on the EIA
scoping report until the over-arching Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) had
been completed by Scottish Government for wind farm developments in Scottish waters.
Given the specific relevance of the site as a scallop fishery it is likely that a scallop
survey would be undertaken subject to consultation with Marine Scotland and further
assessment of available data.

6.5 Josephine stressed that the final layout of the site had yet to be determined based on
the range of issues identified in the EIA and also technical considerations.

6.6 The specific issue of the export cable requirements associated with the site was
mentioned. The Offshore Transmission Owners (OFTO) process precluded the wind farm
developer owning the export cable infrastructure and this element would be subject to a
separate EIA and Environmental Statement (ES). However, the importance of the export
cable to the overall EIA of the BOWL site was recognised and it would form a specific
element of the BOWL EIA and ES.
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

6.7 The requirement for co-operative working between renewables developers was fully
recognised and BOWL were looking to collaborate with Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd
(MORL) whose site was immediately adjacent to their own. Both parties were currently
in discussions to form an operators group for the sites.

6.8 Josephine Henniker noted that surveys on the BOWL site would be ongoing to at
least mid 2011 and in this context it was important to realise that there was no permission
to build as yet, only to survey the sites suitability for construction. The next major step in
this process was for the Strategic Environmental Assessment to be completed by Scottish
Government. Only after the SEA and EIA were completed would the suitability for
construction of a wind farm be decided.

6.9 In order to continue with the collection of environmental data from the site a met
mast would be installed during 2011 but this would be the subject of a separate licence
application and EIA. It was hoped that consent for construction of the main wind farm
would be granted in 2012/13 and construction start from 2014 onwards.

6.10 It was important to recognise that the position of CFLO held by Josephine provided
the fishing industry with a single point of contact and a direct link to the BOWL site
developer. In order for this process to be effective the Fishing Industry should appoint a
Representative (FIR) to act as a point of contact and means of communicating relevant
information both from and to the CFLO. The FIR would normally be identified through
the relevant fishermen’s federation or local fishermen’s organisations and be effective at
ensuring good lines of communication were established and maintained.

6.11 Josephine Henniker identified that the timescale for a baseline of fisheries
information to be assembled was by the end of the current year and that any impact
assessment and studies required would hopefully be started next year (2011).

6.12 John Cox thanked Josephine for her presentation and suggested that consideration
needed to be given to the potential FIR and the best routes for information flow to be
assessed. It would be useful to come back to this issue later in the meeting.

6.13 George Jack explained the importance of the Scallop fishery on the Smith Bank and
queried what baseline information would be required from the industry. He was happy to
provide details of the tows used by the scallop fleet to identify important areas of activity.

6.14 Sandy Patience raised a range of issues which were important for fishing vessels
operating in the area and requested that they were given adequate consideration in any
impact assessment. The first was the issue of a route of navigation through the site as
there were various fishing vessels that required access to fisheries on all sides of the site.
This required detailed consultation with the industry in order to avoid conflict. Secondly
the importance of the scallop fishery would require both a juvenile and adult survey as
both stages were considered important in the area. Equally the squid fishery was highly
important and it would require both dedicated sampling and assessment surveys and
equipment if the true significance were to be determined. Would it be possible to use
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

commercial operators to undertake the sampling surveys? In addition would the cabling
both within and out with the site be completely buried to avoid impact with fishing gear?

6.15 Josephine Henniker responded that subject to appropriate Health and Safety
conditions being met that contractors could utilise commercial fishing vessels in the
range of fisheries survey work requiring to be undertaken. In her experience of wind farm
developments the burying of cables was routine at depths down to 5m and where piling
of the tower bases was needed the conditions were typically suitable for cable burying.

6.16 George Jack noted that there were various areas in the Moray Firth where due to
tidal currents, wind/wave action and sediment types it was extremely difficult to ensure
cables would remain buried.

6.17 Hamish MacPherson queried if a cable could not be buried or became uncovered
who would pay compensation for the potential loss of fishing gear through snagging?

6.18 Duncan MacInnes noted that for various power and telecoms cables in the Outer
Hebrides associated with the distribution grid the majority were buried below 1m and in
most cases over 90% of the lines were buried. There were a range of mitigation measures
that had been deployed to ensure that cables remained buried.

6.19 Nick Lake pointed out that potentially the cabling issue would be the most important
impact for the fishing industry in inshore waters and that the OFTO process would need
to fully recognise this.

6.20 Jay MacKay questioned exclusion zones for fishing activity both during construction
and operational stages as within some English sites it appeared there were no exclusion
zones once operating, and subject to there being no cabling resting on the seabed which
could be fouled.

6.21 The Chairman John Cox felt this was an appropriate point to introduce Colin
Warwick the Crown Estate Fisheries Liaison Officer for renewable energy developments.
Colin would be working to ensure parity between wind farm sites and had experience of
the operations of the sites the Crown had already granted licenses for.

6.22 Colin Warwick welcomed the opportunity to meet with the group and explained his
previous experience as a working fisherman and the opportunities presented through his
appointment to assist the fishing industry work alongside the renewable energy

6.23 Exclusion zones for vessel activities around wind farm sites were typically 150m
during the construction stage for health and safety purposes and 50m when operational
assuming no underwater obstructions were present. However, it was important to
recognise that technology was moving rapidly and with higher output turbines the
spacing of towers would increase to ensure sufficient undisturbed air reached the blades.
The spacing of towers on the BOWL site was on a predicted 5MW turbine capacity but
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

by the time they were given permission to be deployed there may well be 10 MW
generating capacity available which would alter the layout of the site.

6.24 Colin pointed out that speaking as the FLO for the Crown Estate their perspective
was that where ever possible grounds must not be closed off to fishing and that every
opportunity must be taken to ensure access to areas is maintained. Greater individual
generating capacity will allow wider spacing of towers and various mitigation measures
could be deployed to ensure cables do not become seabed obstacles. It should be noted
that in the Irish Sea measures had already been implemented allowing a vessel length of
23m with towed gear to work between the turbine towers. With good planning this should
be achievable on all similar wind farm sites.

6.25 With respect to talk of compensation for loss of access to fishing areas Colin
believed that compensation payments could be regarded as an indication of failure as
there was a clear need and considerable scope to develop fishing opportunities in
conjunction with wind farm sites.

6.26 Colin Warwick stressed the need for a database of fishing activity areas and
personally regretted that as an industry this had not been pursued in the past as this would
have currently placed the industry in a better position to deal with marine developments.
There was therefore an urgent need to develop such a system. The Crown Estate was
involved in establishing a collective database of fishing vessel activity in the North Sea
through the NS Regional Advisory Committee. This was based on Vessel Monitoring
System (VMS), plotter and inshore data for the whole of the NS area and it would be
useful if the MFIFG could be involved with this process.

6.27 Colin considered that the two primary areas of concern for the fishing industry were
the potential disruption with respect to access to an area during the construction stage and
the connection of the export cable to the shore. In England the legislation allows wind
farm developers to be informed where they are required to bring the cables ashore and
this may not be the shortest or most convenient routes for them. It is not currently clear
whether the same conditions apply to Scottish waters?

6.28 The OFTO process makes provision for cables to be buried typically down to 2m but
potentially as deep as 5m. Where this is technically not possible there are various
mitigation measures that can be used including matting and rock armouring as
appropriate. The most vulnerable area is where the cabling leaves the tower and enters
the seabed. This is achieved through a “J” tube which allows for the cable to be
immediately buried upon entering the sediment. The Crown Estate wish to ensure trials
are undertaken with various gears to look at how close it is possible to safely fish in the
vicinity of the cabling infrastructure between towers.

6.29 Colin concluded by detailing the need for good lines of communication to be
established between all parties involved in the development process and this clearly
included those fishing in the areas of such developments.
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

6.30 Allan Henderson pointed out that in the context of the Argyll Array the developers
seem to have taken the converse approach to cabling indicating that the lines coming
ashore may be split to various landfalls and that they had no desire to bury the cables.
This would have a considerable impact on the fishing industry if this approach was
allowed to proceed. Equally they were looking to clear the site area during the
construction stage and pay compensation and overall they appeared to want a clear area
for the wind farm to operate in.

6.31 Colin Warwick responded that from a developer’s perspective the benefit of burying
cables was to prevent accidental fouling. The industry should insist on all cabling being
buried where technically feasible on safety of shipping grounds. While the cables in
many instances would be extremely heavy they could still be damaged by shipping. This
point was re-enforced by John Watt who pointed out that the fishing industry needs to
insist on the burying of cables to prevent the fouling of fishing gear which was a safety
issue in its own right.

6.32 Colin Warwick noted that with respect to the telecoms industry the value of the
cable and the need to ensure its integrity meant that a system whereby gear could be
slipped if it became seriously fouled and subsequently compensated for was in existence.
This was by far the most cost effective means of dealing with the issue.

6.33 John Watt pointed out that there were existing procedures for the notification of the
Maritime and Coastguard Agency where fishing gear became entangled with oil and gas
pipelines and a similar system would be needed for cabling given the likely increase in
it’s presence on fishing grounds.

6.34 Hamish MacPherson stated from a fishing industry perspective it would be totally
unacceptable for cables to be laid across the Moray Firth without them being buried to
avoid fishing vessel activity.

6.35 Colin Warwick agreed that safety had to be the primary consideration when it came
to cabling and vessel activities and that industry best practice had to be developed. In
some cases the shortest cabling route to the shore may not be the safest and splitting of
routes may be needed. All factors needed to be considered in the over riding interest of
safety and good communication needed to be built up to deal with such factors.

6.36 Jimmy Mitchell raised the issue of the Electro-Magnetic Field (EMF) arising from
the cabling and the impact on fish in the vicinity even when the cabling was buried.
Electro-fishing had been banned under European Regulation and so there was obvious
concern of the effect of vast cable arrays on the fish populations on the seabed.

6.37 Colin Warwick replied that in his experience of fishing over or near power cables
there appeared to have been no adverse effects on the amount of fish present. Jay
MacKay suggested that the impact needed to be assessed based on sampling near existing
powered up cables. Nick Lake pointed out that the MFIFG had already identified one
issue that was of concern in this context due to the reported impact of EMFs on
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

crustaceans. The MFIFG had put together a research project looking at the migration of
Lobsters within the Moray Firth which had failed to gain SISP funding in the current
year. Colin Warwick said that such studies were of interest to the Crown Estate in their
overall role of assessing the impact of developments on the environment and he would be
interested in receiving a copy of the proposals to see if the Crown could be supportive in
any way.

Action Point: Nick Lake to send SISP Lobster Project Proposal to Colin Warwick.

6.38 Jay MacKay raised the issue of the siting of an additional met mast in 2011 and
wondered why the existing data gathering stations on the Beatrice demonstration
structure were not being utilised. Josephine Henniker responded that there was a need for
a mast to the North of the BOWL site to gather appropriate data from that area. Nick
Lake noted that in the EIA Scoping Report mention had been made of “one or two” met
masts that would be located on the site. Would these be subject to decommissioning
requirements on the basis that the overall development may not ultimately go ahead?
There was concern that these could be left as additional obstructions on the seabed.
Josephine pointed out that the structures would be licensed separately and that the licence
conditions would lay down conditions for decommissioning. She was not aware of the
requirement for a second met mast as plans were only in place for one to the North end of
the BOWL site.

6.39 John Cox thanked both Colin and Josephine for attending the meeting and
establishing a communication link between the MFIFG and the renewable developments.
He hoped the other IFGs attending had benefitted from the discussions and looked
forward to working with all the groups to benefit the inshore fishing industry in this

2. Minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting 19th March 2010

2.1 Some minor amendments to the wording of the draft minutes had been received from
David Terry and these were identified (point 3.7.11) and corrections made.

2.2 The final minute was approved as correct by Jay MacKay and seconded by Sandy

3. Matters Arising

3.1 SISP selection criteria for research projects

The Co-ordinator noted the correspondence sent to the SISP secretariat and the Secretary
of SIFAG. Copies had been sent out with the meetings Agenda and papers. No response
had yet been received to either letter. Nick Lake also pointed out that he had written to
the IFG National Co-ordinator regarding the point raised by David Donnan at the last
Executive Committee meeting (Point 4.17) regarding availability of general research
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

funding for the IFGs. He had a response from Bill Ellis stating the matter was being
considered by Marine Scotland.

3.2 Revision of shellfish legislation relating to un-licensed activities

The Co-ordinator had sent a letter out to all other IFGs on this matter to determine the
significance on a national level. The Clyde IFG has already identified this as an issue
while the Outer Hebrides do not see it as a major issue in the Western Isles. The other
IFGs will be considering this at their next Executive Committee meetings.

David Terry had provided clarification on two issues raised at the last meeting. With
respect to point (3.7.8) the terms “mobile” and “active” gear within the legislation
effectively were the same thing and merely a drafting style. Point (3.7.12) EC Regulation
containing requirements on the detailed marking of fishing gear only relates to the area of
sea beyond 12 miles. David Terry was not aware of any national legislation governing
marking of gear within 12 miles.

3.3 Oil tanker anchoring impacts, SNH survey / CFPA letter

The Co-ordinator reported that he had written to the Cromarty Firth Port Authority
following the last meeting to outline the discussions with SNH regarding the management
of the SAC. In addition mention had been made of the intended ROV survey to look at
possible disturbance of the seabed by vessel anchors and cables.

Discussions had progressed with SNH regarding the seabed survey and the availability of
an ROV. David Donnan had been able to secure the use of a new ROV being
commissioned by SNH and as part of the operator training programme there was a
potential opportunity to deploy it in the Moray Firth by this summer. In order to focus the
search area there was a need for recent co-ordinates of where vessel anchors had been
deployed and David had asked for any available information from the fishing industry.

Hamish MacPherson agreed to secure such information from vessels which had been
impacted by the oil tankers and rigs.

Nick Lake noted that he had again written to the MCA as the original correspondence
regarding the mooring of tankers had been passed to another MCA member for
consideration. In his most recent correspondence he had mentioned that some vessels
were switching off their AIS when at anchor. He had queried whether this was part of
measures to prevent terrorist attacks and raised the issue that it potentially created a
greater risk to other shipping.

Jimmy Mitchell pointed out that the Marine Superintendent at Nigg Oil Terminal may be
able to help with the location of vessels anchoring in the Firth. In addition it was
mentioned that the oil facilities used to work under security and terrorism alert conditions
and possibly these were still in operation.
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

3.4 Static and mobile gear interaction SFF draft voluntary code

The Co-ordinator had received version 2 of the code and believed it had been circulated
to all relevant parties. The stated intention was to finalise the code and get it issued as
soon as possible.

Jay MacKay gave an update on the compilation of charts for the Portmahomack to Wick
section of the coastline indicating that the working areas for all static gear was in the
process of being agreed. The charts would then be sent to SFF before wider distribution
hopefully through the MS – Compliance offices.

Albert Ritchie raised the point that the introductory wording was not suitable as it related
to the area around Fraserburgh and Alex Watt agreed that they would like to see this
amended before a final version was issued. John Watt said he would raise this with
Malcolm Morrison.

Anne McLay noted the requirement to produce accurate charts of the areas concerned and
offered the assistance of the MS-S GIS facilities at the Marine Laboratory.

John Cox noted that this was an important initiative for the industry to embark on and
that there was a clear need for industry agreement on the way forward which appeared to
be progressing.

3.5 Moray Firth renewable energy developments

This had already been dealt with under Agenda item 6.

3.6 IFG Policy Review. Invitation for consultants to consult MFIFG

The Co-ordinator outlined that he had invited the consultants (Homarus) to attend the
Executive Committee meeting as a way for them to meet the full range of organisations
involved in the operation of the IFG. Unfortunately they had declined as they had no
remit to encompass this within their review.

Nick Lake circulated the questionnaire he had received from the consultants relating to
the costs associated with operating IFGs. He reported that he would respond accordingly
but if others had points they wished to make regarding the operating costs he would be
please to add them to the response.

John Cox queried the final two sections of the form relating to (1.1.6) additional IFG
expenditure or costs and (1.2.7) additional MS - S and MS – C resources required to
implement and maintain the FMP for the area. These could not really be estimated until
such time as the FMP had been produced and implemented, and it was difficult to predict
what resources may be available from MS-S and MS-C? It would seem to be more
appropriate if we had to do forward forecasting to identify the total budget for the IFG
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

and relate these costs as part of the implementation plan which would be the subject of
securing separate funding.

Greg Allan pointed out that this sort of fundamental cost benefit analysis should really
have been undertaken at a far earlier stage of development of the IFG process. However,
there was now a need to try and get a clear idea of the likely costs of these groups for all

Greg stressed that only by considering such factors was it possible to estimate the total
roll-out cost to all areas of the Scottish coast. This was not a process to limit the IFGs.
With respect to the consultants this was not a root and branch review but a look at
operating costs and hence there was limited budget to engage in country wide meetings.
The cost benefit analysis they were seeking to complete would be used to place the IFG
network on a more realistic financial footing.

4. Co-ordinators Update Report (Paper 1)

4.1 Nick Lake made brief mention of some of the meetings he had attended since the last
Exec. Comm. Meeting. Probably the most notable was the Marine Planning workshop
attended on the 29th April as it included discussion of the draft Marine Policy Statement
being developed by the UK administrations as part of the Marine and Coastal Access Act
(2009) and the Marine (Scotland) Act (2010). The Marine Policy Statement would guide
the introduction of the National Marine Plan for Scotland and this would have
considerable consequences for the fishing industry as a whole. The Co-ordinator noted
his concern that the commercial fishing industry had not been represented at this event.

5. Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd. EIA Scoping Exercise Consultation

5.1 The Co-ordinator had prepared a response to this which had been circulated to the
MFIFG members on 13/4/10.

6. Moray Firth Renewable Energy Developments and Consultation with the Fishing

See above

7. Marine (Scotland) Act 2010. Implications for the fishing industry?

7.1 The Co-ordinator updated the group on developments that has arisen with respect to
both UK and Scottish legislation. The UK marine Bill was now the UK Marine and
Coastal Access Act 2009 while the Scottish Marine Bill had received Royal Assent on
10th March. The emphasis of both Acts was to bring in a system of marine planning
through a series of secondary legislation.

7.2 Nick Lake pointed out the possible changes in the way the marine environment will
be managed with the proposed establishment of statutory Scottish Marine Regions and
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

the implementation of Marine Protected Areas. It was important for the industry to realise
that a system of marine planning was proposed which could encompass all activities out
to the 12nm limit. The over riding issue was the need for the fishing industry to be
involved in the overall Marine Planning system and influence the process being entered
into to set it up. Copies of the Co-ordinators presentation are available for circulation to
the MFIFG members or any other fishing industry groups.

8. Commercial Fish Stock Monitoring and Assessment within the Moray Firth

8.1 The Chairman postponed the presentation until after lunch

9. Marine Protected Areas in the Seas around Scotland

9.1 The Co-ordinator had circulated with the Agenda Paper 2 based on the “Draft
guidelines on the selection of MPAs and development of the MPA network. Issued by
Scottish Government March 2010.”

9.2 The consultation paper identified the selection criteria which would be used to
determine sites and species to be considered for protection through the Marine Protected
Area process. The Co-ordinator noted that while there were almost 70 different species
and habitat types noted the consultation document did not identify any specific sites.

9.3 The recommendation made by the Co-ordinator was that the Group should note that
the final list of Priority Marine Features needed to be submitted to Government by June
2010. In addition that “Significant progress towards identifying Nature Conservation
MPAs to complete the network will have been made by the end of 2012.”

9.4 In order to gain a greater insight into developments within the Moray Firth being
considered by the statutory nature conservation organisations it was suggested that they
should be invited to make a presentation to the next MFIFG Executive Committee

9.5 The chairman proposed that any presentation should be postponed to a subsequent
meeting as the next Executive Committee meeting would be largely taken up with the
consideration of the MFIFG draft Fisheries Management Plan. This was agreed by the

Action Point: The Co-ordinator to invite SNH to a future meeting of the MFIFG to
discuss the implementation of the MPA network within the Moray Firth area.

10. MFIFG Priorities for the Fisheries Management Plan – Port Infrastructure and
Fishery Products Branding and/or Accreditation.

10.1 The Chairman indicated that consideration had been given to most aspects of the
contents of the Fisheries Management Plan during past meetings but that gaps were
evident with respect to the infrastructure requirements of inshore fisheries. There was a
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

need to try and determine what extra investment was needed in facilities such as ice
plants, cold stores, and vessel slips etc.

10.2 In order to identify any particular requirements he suggested that the Co-ordinator
should circulate a short questionnaire to members. This was agreed.

Action Point: Nick Lake to circulate a short questionnaire to all members seeking
views on infrastructure requirements within the MFIFG area.

Break for Lunch

Recommence : The following were not able to attend the afternoon session of the

Colin Warwick, Josephine Henniker, Duncan MacInnes, Jimmy Mitchell, George Jack,
John Watt.

8. Commercial Fish Stock Monitoring and Assessment within the Moray Firth.
Implications for the MFIFG Fisheries Management Plan?

8.1 The Chairman welcomed Anne McLay to the meeting. The overview she presented
was based on a draft document produced for the MFIFG by Marine Scotland – Science in
March 2010, entitled “Moray Firth IFG area – Stock overview, data / information
availability and requirements.”

8.2 Key points were raised with respect to commercially important stocks. Nephrops was
the one shellfish species managed as part of the wider North Sea stock through TAC
provisions. There appeared to be no major problems with the sustainability of the stock
and it was noted that the NS RAC was in the process of developing a long term Nephrops
management plan.

8.3 King scallop is an important fishery within the area and it was noted that both the
spawning stock biomass and juvenile recruitment appear low. The North East assessment
area corresponds well with the coastal boundary of the MFIFG however, it extends far
beyond the 12Nm limit. The scallop fishery is important in the area of the Smith Bank
and so there are implications for renewable energy developments and consideration of
recruitment processes. Equally other areas of the Firth are important for scallops and
these may be impacted by cabling runs. With respect to scallop recruitment the potential
implementation of closed areas in the Firth through MPAs or renewable energy
developments may present opportunities to increase spawning stock biomass in certain

8.4 With respect to both Crab and Lobster stock assessment the East Coast assessment
area far exceeds the boundaries of the MFIFG. If this area were re-drawn for stock
assessment purposes there would be considerable additional effort required from MS
market sampling team and it is difficult to see how this could be resourced. Currently
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

Length Cohort Analysis was the only stock assessment measure employed and there was
no data routinely gathered on catch rates, relative abundance on the ground or distribution
of stocks. There is a clear need for greater evidence on the status of the fishery in the area
with Catch per Unit Effort or Landings per Unit Effort highly desirable for the areas

8.5 Jay Mackay queried how Brown Crab and Lobster stocks could be reported to be over
fished if so little was known about the stocks and the fishing effort? Anne McLay pointed
out that the Length Cohort Analysis gave an indication of the yield per individual
recruited into the commercial fishery (above MLS) and hence the indication being termed
“growth overfishing”. This meant that if fishing effort were reduced a proportion of the
individuals would have a greater chance of reaching a larger size before being caught and
hence overall when they were caught there overall weight (or yield) would be increased.
However, this was not to say or infer that the stocks were not being fished sustainably
rather that per individual a greater unit weight could be achieved if less fishing effort
were applied.

8.6 Jay MacKay pointed out that it was extremely important that the messages scientists
were trying to get across were not mis-represented or mis-understood by those outside of
scientific or policy circles. Both Brown Crab and Lobster stocks had been reported to be
overexploited in terms of growth overfishing. However, this was a statement that could
be easily mis-interpreted by those wishing to claim that the fishing industry was not
operating sustainably. It was very important that all the evidence was able to be gathered
on the stocks and fishing activity in the area before any general statements were made on
the status of the fisheries. There was a clear role for the fishermen them selves to have an
input into this process of gathering the appropriate evidence as to the sustainability of

8.7 Anne McLay raised the issue of VMS data being used to identify key fishing areas in
the Moray Firth. The current situation was that only vessels of greater than 15m have a
statutory duty to provide VMS data. However, MS-S have been undertaking trials with
compact VMS units on smaller vessels and these have been extremely useful at tracking
both mobile and static gear fishing activity. Anne suggested that this may be an
appropriate approach to show the fishing industry activity in areas which have been
identified as renewable energy areas (or potential MPAs). This may help the industry
present its case when it comes to the EIA of such developments. The Marine Laboratory
would be pleased to work with commercial fishermen in the Moray Firth area with
respect to gaining VMS data from smaller inshore vessels.

8.8 The squid fishery was recognised as extremely important within the Moray Firth but
unfortunately no work had been undertaken on the status of stocks. The dynamics of the
stock with the fishery often prosecuting the same year recruitment made studies
technically difficult but surveys could be done. In terms of the Beatrice developments
there would be a clear need to establish a baseline assessment.
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

8.9 In terms of other species of commercial significance within the MFIFG area little was
known regarding the status of stocks. Anne McLay noted that considerable work had
been undertaken on the Highland Regulating Order bivalve mollusc stock assessments
but that this information would largely now be out of date. One point with respect to
Razor fish stocks in Scotland was that the Minimum Landing Size was potentially too
low due to the slow growth rate achieved by the species.

8.10 One concluding point which Anne felt was worth making was the need to try and
establish a clear monitoring system to judge the impact of any management measures
introduced through the Fisheries Management Plan. This would be a far from easy task
within a limited area given the scale upon which some stocks were assessed but it was
important to consider the issue from the outset.

8.11 The Chairman thanked Anne for her presentation and welcomed any comments MS-
S were able to make on the MFIFG draft Fisheries Management Plan as it was developed.

11. Any Other Business?

11.1 The Chairman raised the issue of the selection of a suitable contact to undertake the
role of the FIR for the renewable energy developments on the BOWL site. The process of
selection of a Fishing Industry Representative had been mentioned by Josephine
Henniker in her presentation and he had discussed this issue with various members over
lunch. The feeling appeared to be that in the coming months and years there would be a
large flow of information from the developers, with responses required from the fishing
industry. It was important that this information got to the right people and at this stage
this information flow was largely a desk based task.

11.2 The normal route for designation of a FIR was through the appropriate Federation or
fishermen’s organisations and John Cox said that he had raised this with John Watt as to
how best all fishing interests could be kept informed of the BOWL developments. It was
felt that if there was support from the SFF there was scope for the MFIFG Co-ordinator
to be a shore based contact to ensure all parties were kept informed of developments.
With all the main fishermen’s organisations currently in membership of the MFIFG and
independents represented at the Executive Committee level this may be a suitable
approach to make to the BOWL site developers.

11.3 Greg Allan questioned whether SFF would be supportive of such an interim
arrangement during the early development phases of the site. Hamish MacPherson felt
that it was a subject that could be discussed within SFF but in principal didn’t see it as a
major issue.

11.4 The Chairman recognised general support for this potential way of covering the FIR
responsibilities for the benefit of all those fishing commercially in the Beatrice and
Moray Firth area. He proposed that this should be considered by the members and if there
were no difficulties raised at the next Executive Committee meeting an approach should
be made to the BOWL developers on this basis.
Minutes - Moray Firth IFG Executive Committee Meeting 30th April 2010

12. Date, Time and Venue of the Next Meeting?

12.1 The Chairman thanked all those for attending especially the invited guests who had
contributed to the meeting. It was proposed that the next meeting should be based around
consideration of the draft Fisheries Management Plan for the Moray Firth and be on;

25th June 2010 @ 10:00 in the Ramada Jarvis Hotel, Church Street, Inverness

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