Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Major restrictions imposed on Isle of Man queen scallop fishing

Queen scallops in shells Image copyright IOM GOV
Image caption Queen scallops were voted the island's national dish in 2018

Major new controls on queen scallop fishing have been imposed around Isle of Man waters in a bit to protect the species from over-fishing.

Fishing for the shellfish - which is a key income generator for Manx fishermen - has been restricted to one area off the east coast, the government said.

The move follows a 40% reduction in the volume of scallops that can be caught.

An annual survey showed stocks were at their lowest since 1993, although that figure was disputed by fishermen.

Environment Minister Geoffrey Boot said the move was needed for the "future sustainability of the industry".

David Beard, chief executive of the Manx Fish Producers' Organisation (MFPO), said while it was "the right way forward", the uncertainty was "very unsettling" for those in the industry.

Image copyright MANX SCENES
Image caption An area south of Chicken Rock, along with areas off Peel and the Point of Ayre, have been closed

There are nearly 30 Manx registered queen scallop fishing boats operating in the island's territorial waters, which stretch for about 12 miles from the coast.

In July, the Department for the Environment, Food and Agriculture said stocks had fallen to their lowest level in 26 years.

But the MFPO said areas not included in the survey had higher stock levels.

"We still believe there's a large amount of queen scallops off Douglas, which we haven't even touched yet," Mr Beard said.

The total allowable catch was reduced by 40% when the 2019 season opened on 1 July, but that reduction has now been halved to 20%.

In June this year Mr Boot said that there was "a very real possibility" there would be "no scallop fishing in 2020" if restrictions were not imposed.

The shellfish, affectionately known on the island as queenies, were voted the Isle of Man's national dish in 2018.

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