Inshore Fisheries Group
Inshore Fisheries Groups (IFGs) are non-statutory bodies that aim to improve the management of Scotland’s inshore fisheries out to 6 nautical miles and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments. Alastair McNeill is Chair of the West Coast Regional IFG which covers the Solway area.
The predecessor to the West Coast RIFG, the South West IFG has two projects underway in the Solway: a trial introduction of creel escape panels and a lobster v-notching scoping study. The projects are aimed at conserving valuable commercial stocks and helping to ensure the long term sustainability of the local crab and lobster fisheries. Enabled by IFG project funding, the projects are being taken forward in a partnership between local creel fishermen, scientists and Solway Firth Partnership.
Creel escape panels are used in other parts of the UK and abroad and are designed to allow juvenile crab and lobster to escape unharmed. The measure also reduces the time it takes to clear pots so has benefits for both stock conservation and the working practice of fishermen.
Because female lobsters are not berried (egg bearing) all year round it’s not always possible to distinguish breeding stock. A scoping study is being carried out in the Solway to explore the potential for v-notching which is a way of harmlessly marking breeding lobsters by cutting a notch in the tail. Landing v-notched lobsters is prohibited and the notch can take several years to grow out. As female lobsters can produce between 10 and 15 thousand eggs, protecting breeding stock is also protecting the future of the fishery.
Dr Peter Duncan and Dr Bryony Pearce are working alongside Galloway Static Gear Fishermen's Association and Solway Firth Partnership on project implementation which has included a series of presentations on creel fishery management options.
The latest RIFG newsletter including an update from the West Coast IFG is now available to download below:-