Scientific dispensation request granted for King Scallop fishing trial off south-east England
The UK Marine Management Organosation (MMO) has granted a scientific dispensation to MacDuff Shellfish to carry out a two-day scallop fishing trial off the South East coast of England.
The trial will take place before the end of October 2023 and will test the feasibility and potential benefits of shucking scallops at sea.
What is shucking?
Shucking is the process of removing the scallop meat from the scallop shell. Shucking on board a vessel immediately after catching is not currently permitted under UK law.
Regulations require fishers to land whole scallops to enable effective enforcement of scallop minimum conservation reference sizes (MCRS).
These measures are in place to protect scallop stocks to ensure their long-term viability and sustainability for the future.
What is a scientific dispensation?
Any fishing or research vessel may submit a scientific research dispensation request to the MMO.
As England’s marine manager, the MMO assesses these requests against the government’s growth priorities and its priorities for enhancing the marine environment, supporting economic growth and enabling sustainable marine development.
If approved by the MMO, a dispensation may be granted for fishing activity that would otherwise be unlawful, for the purposes of scientific research.
Why is this trial permitted?
During its assessment of the request, the MMO worked with MacDuff Shellfish to limit the length of the trial to just two days and make sure it takes place outside the scallop spawning season.
The trial is purely scientific and will test the business and environmental benefits of shucking scallops at sea with no financial return for the applicant. MacDuff Shellfish will also be required to retain all scallop shells obtained during the trial for size verification on its return.
Prior to approval, MMO has also consulted partners, including Cefas, Food Standards Agency, Marine Scotland, the Environment Agency, and DEFRA, to ensure all relevant standards will be met.