Fife MSP delighted with the decision to ban fishing for sandeel in Scottish waters
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The announcement followed a consultation last year on the proposals to manage fishing for sandeels in Scottish waters. Legislation will be brought forward in February, with the ban being expected to take effect before the end of March in time for the start of the fishing season.
Scotland is estimated to be home to a third of Europe’s breeding populations of seabirds, for which sandeels are a key source of food.
The RSPB describes the fish as a ‘cornerstone species’ which is important to supporting the marine environment.
UK fishing vessels have not been assigned any sandeel quota since 2021, and current fishing is largely done by EU-based vessels.
Willie Rennie, who is also the RSPB Nature Champion for sandeel has welcomed the decision.
Willie said: “I am glad to see a positive outcome to the consultation. The overwhelming support for banning the fishing of sandeel reflects their importance to the health and resilience of the wider marine ecosystem. They provide a source of food for everything from puffins to salmon.
“Seabirds are under pressure from a number of factors including climate change and outbreaks of avian flu. The ban will mean that they no longer have to compete over sandeels with industrial fishing for animal feed and fertiliser and will contribute to their protection.
“I look forward to seeing the necessary legislation introduced in the Scottish Parliament and hope it can be passed swiftly ahead of this year’s fishing season.”
Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said: By not allowing the UK commercial fishing of sandeels, we can better protect and enhance the lives of vulnerable seabirds and marine mammals that play such a crucial part in our marine ecosystems.
Sandeels are an important component in the food chain for some of our most treasured species, such as puffins, and the decision to not allow sandeel fishing will help benefit our seabird populations.”