To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(1) if she will assess the potential effects of the closure of the Western Waters scallops fishery on jobs related to the local scallop fishing industry;
(2) whether she had recent discussions with the Scallop Association on the closure of the Western Waters scallops fishery.
The recent closure of the important Area VII scallop fishery to UK vessels over 15 metres in length has clearly created problems for the sector. We are working with industry to avoid a situation where it causes permanent damage to these businesses and the markets they have worked hard to develop over the years. To reopen the fishery this year the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is seeking to source additional effort from other member states by agreeing international swaps.
Following a preliminary assessment of the likely impact of the closure on the scallop fishing industry, the MMO decided to close the fishery in October as the industry's preference was for an early closure to allow the possibility of them being able to supply scallops to the lucrative French Christmas market.
DEFRA officials and the MMO have been in regular contact with the Scallop Association and other parts of the industry throughout this process. These discussions began prior to the closure, firstly at the UK Scallop Group in June, followed by a dedicated meeting in late August and have been continuing on an almost daily basis as MMO sought to agree the best possible deal for the wider UK fishing industry via international swaps.