Scottish minister hits out at Manx scallop fishing ban
A Scottish minister has hit out at the Isle of Man's decision to ban larger vessels from scallop fishing, claiming it is not a conservation measure.
The Manx government has imposed a by-law preventing larger vessels from fishing scallops in Isle of Man waters, claiming they destroy stocks.
Talks are under way between the two governments after Scottish fishermen said they were discriminated against.
The Scottish fisheries minister said there was "no scientific case".
Scallops are worth millions of pounds to the Manx economy and banned vessels who break the by-law face a £50,000 fine.
Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochead said: "While some Scottish vessels can still fish those waters, others are excluded because of the size of the vessel, but the vessels that are still able to fish can fish as much as they want and we don't feel that that's a conservation measure.
"There's been no scientific case to back up the by-law that's been put in place, which blatantly just excludes Scottish vessels."
A Manx government spokesman said: "A number of large vessels targeted fertile areas off the Manx coast and this had a disproportionate impact during the short time they were there.
"Evidence from recent surveys suggests this opportunistic approach was hugely damaging to juvenile scallops due to enter the fishery in November 2010.
"This bye-law considerably reduces the potential for previous levels of devastation to happen in the future."
Isle of Man environment minister John Shimmin MHK said: "The larger scallopers that used to come in would fish for up to 10 days and did so much damage to the sea bed and took so much stock out that we took the measure to limit the size of vessel that can come in.
"We believe what we have done is right for the sustainability of our fishing grounds."