SWFPO attendance at the 23rd International Pectinid Workshop, April 2024

The SWFPO team had the opportunity to attend the 23rd International Pectinid Workshop (IPW) that took place in late April 2024 on the Isle of Man. Since 1976, the IPW has been a biennial event that attracts marine researchers, managers and catchers/processors from all over the world. The primary goal of the IPW is to share knowledge about scallop fisheries from different parts of the world. The workshop is a testament to the economic and ecological significance of pectinids globally, with the participation of over 125 attendees from 25 countries who usually attend the event. This year, the IPW returned to the Isle of Man having previously been hosted there in 1980 and proved a most appropriate venue with two scallop fisheries based on the queen scallop (Aequipecten opercularis) and the king scallop (Pecten maximus), as well as exhibiting an example of co-management between industry, researchers, and government.

The 23rd workshop focused on various topics throughout the week, including scallop biology and genetics, aquaculture and reproduction, physiology, biochemistry, and ecology, all the way through to fisheries and the economic value of scallops.

The first two days of the conference had a strong emphasis on the management of scallop fisheries across various parts of the world. There were inspiring examples of successful co-management of fisheries, with well established, good working relationships between industry, research institutions, and government bodies. However, the key takeaway from the positive examples was that no progress can be made without putting in the necessary effort and sacrifices. In other words, there is no gain without pain.

During the conference, several presentations were given on effective management strategies for scallop fisheries. Notable examples included the rotational management approach used in the Bay of Seine, France, and a ten-year review of the same strategy in Maine, USA. The Isle of Man Scallop Management Board was also discussed as an example of a highly collaborative approach allowing the fishery to be monitored and managed in near real-time. Additionally, there was a presentation on the potential use of Artificial Intelligence to survey New Zealand scallops (Pecten novaezelandiae) – a cryptic beast like our Pecten maximus, and a brief overview of the Alaskan weathervane (Patinopecten caurinus) scallop fishery, which is operated by only two vessels. The conference day ended on a lighter note with these interesting topics.

On the second day of the IPW, we learned more about fishery management from an industry perspective. We heard from various speakers throughout the day, including David Beard from the MFPO who discussed his vision for co-management on the island, Bryce Stewart on the effects of MPAs in terms of protecting scallop population, Andrew Brown from Macduff who talked about the company’s aspirations for UK scallop fisheries and their recent shucking at sea trials, and Annabel Stockwin from DEFRA who presented on the next steps for the English and Welsh Scallop FMP. Mairi Fenton, a PhD student at Heriot-Watt University, also presented her global analysis of scallop management, including how the UK fisheries fit into the worldwide picture – an incredibly useful resrouce to have to hand as we start implementing our new FMP.

After lunch, the discussions continued with topics such as alternative scallop harvesting methods from Norway, scallop potting trials around the UK, and research on the co-existence of scallop fisheries with windfarm developments in the US.

It can be confidently said that the event was a success and provided a lot of valuable insights for managing the scallop fishery in the UK. Main take home messages for the SWFPO team were that the UK clearly has a lot to learn from global scallop fisheries, and that collaborative management is key in order to succeed.  Whilst different sectors clearly have a different interpretation of co-management, this event was a great opportunity to inform the future debate in the UK.  The UK could beneficially learn a lot from others who have been through a similar process to what we’re about to embark on – exploring their successes and learning from their mistakes.  It also highlighted that marine spatial squeeze presents a huge issue to tackle. There is definitely a lot of work to be done before the next International Pectinid Workshop (IPW) taking place in Maine, USA in 2026. I personally gained a great deal of knowledge about scallops and the different approaches to harvest and management. I am fully embracing the motto of Bryce Stewart, a scallop scientist based in Plymouth, and am ready to #BeMoreScallop.

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