Isle of Man queenie exports reach £3m mark

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Isle of Man queen scallop exports have reached a record £3m despite tougher fishing regulations in Manx territorial waters, according to the government.

The 2013 season, which ran between June and October, reaped in the region of 4,000 tonnes of the shellfish.

It follows new bye-laws restricting catch size and season length.

Fisheries minister Phil Gawne said the measures had resulted in a "higher quality product" which was proving popular in the European market.

Government figures show 2012 queenie exports were worth about £1.7m to the Isle of Man, a figure which has grown steadily from about £700,000 in 2002.

The figures suggest the Manx queenie industry is now approaching a similar value to that of the Manx scallop industry, which last year was worth about £3m to the island.

Queenies are one of the smaller scallop species - it is a bivalve mollusc which can grow up to 3in (9cm) in diameter, compared to scallops which can grow to about 9in (23cm).

Earlier this year the Isle of Man government imposed new legislation to prevent over-fishing in Manx waters after figures showed a sharp decline in local stocks.

Research by scientists at Bangor University showed the volume of shellfish in Manx waters has fallen by about 15,000 tonnes to 20,000 tonnes since 2010.

"The department has worked hard with the industry to achieve a sustainable queenie fishery in the Manx territorial sea, using trawl nets, and this was formally recognised in 2011 with Marine Stewardship Council accreditation," said Mr Gawne.

"The reduction in the area of the territorial sea where dredge gear can be used to fish for queenies also contributes to our aims of achieving a profitable but sustainable fishery."

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