‘Queenie’ scallops win Award with assistance from Bangor University

Queenies on the sea bed off the Isle of ManQueenies on the sea bed off the Isle of ManSupport and advice from Bangor University’s renowned School of Ocean Sciences has assisted the Isle of Man ‘Queenie’ fishery to win the prestigious Billingsgate Sustainable Fisheries Award. And the future looks bright for the Isle of Man fishing industry. Once in decline, the now sustainably fished ‘queenie’ fishery is providing a high value product sought after by best restaurants around the UK.

The Isle of Man (IOM) Government won the 2011 Sustainable Seafood Awards, beating five other finalists from around the globe at Billingsgate Seafood School in London.

Professor Mike Kaiser of Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences has been assisting the IOM Government’s Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture since 2006. They have worked hand in hand with the fishing industry itself- with the aim of avoiding previous periods of ‘boom and bust’.

Prof Michel KaiserProf Michel KaiserProf Kaiser explained: “Our science was aimed at addressing the key questions about the sustainability of the fishery. This required an intensive effort to gather data about scallop stocks, seabed habitats and the bycatch associated with the fishing gear. However none of this would have mattered without fishermen’s cooperation’.

He adds: “The future for the Queenie fishery is very promising. The fishermen themselves are all in favour of what’s being done- and they’re also hoping to achieve a valuable designation of origin recognition for their product by the end of this year, which will add further value to their product.”

“The way this has been achieved provides a valuable model for other fisheries, showing what can be achieved through open dialogue and cooperation- as opposed to enforcement.”

Working aboard the Prince MadogWorking aboard the Prince MadogThe IOM Government has worked alongside fisherman for the past ten years, gradually introducing conservation measures to balance the commercial and environmental needs. For the past 4 years, Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences have provided advice and also assisted with background research and evidence and have a permanent member of staff (Dr Lee Murray) based on the island.

Research by the School showed that new fishing methods had much lower impacts on  seabed habitats compared with other scallop fisheries. They also showed that the fishery has no significant by-catch of other species.  

Because they fish within the islands’ 12 mile nautical boundary, their carbon footprint is also very low compared to other scallop fisheries around the world.

Only the largest queenies are kept on board and smaller shellfish thrown back.

Satellite monitoring of all fishing boat activities has also provided the marine scientists with valuable information about relative effort, profitability, seabed impact, fishermen’s behaviour and much more.

Again Professor Kaiser explains: “Providing workable policies for sustainable fisheries relies on far more than evidence about the marine life- we need to take human behaviour into account as well. We are just as important an element in the equation.”

All this has led to the fishery attaining a provisional Marine Stewardship Council ‘pass’. This is another recognition that can add value and generate further demand for the high-value product.

Watch the regional ITV news reporting the event here.

 

Publication date: 14 February 2011