1.1.1 The evidence currently available indicates that there is only limited fishing activity within the Project site. The majority of the Project is situated in ICES rectangle 35E6 and, to a lesser extent, 36E6. Both export cable route options are located in rectangle 35E6, with two landfall site options between Prestatyn and Rhyl. The Project is situated within the 6nm limit and as such is under the jurisdiction of the North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NW-IFCA). Additionally, only UK registered vessels are permitted to fish within the vicinity of the Project. As such vessels registered to other nationalities cannot legally fish within the Project.
1.1.2 It should be noted that the areas of ICES rectangles used by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) for the spatial recording of fishing data are large (approximately 900nm² in open sea areas) relative to the area of the Project. The MMO data by ICES rectangle records only moderate landings values in rectangles 35E6 and 36E6 compared to other rectangles in the regional study area. It is however considered that the majority of the activity recorded within these rectangles is outwith of the Project boundary.
1.1.3 Within ICES rectangle 35E6, within which the majority of the Project is located, the MMO data identifies cockles, queen scallops, king scallops and sole as the principal target species. Consultation with fishermen suggests that dredging for king and queen scallops occurs to the west of the local study area, some distance from the Project. The main method for harvesting cockles is handpicking and charts provided by the NW-IFCA indicated that this only occurred in intertidal and near shore areas well to the south of the Project and not in areas which would be transacted by the export cable route.
1.1.4 Within the Project boundary, there is a small, discrete, seasonal fishery for sole, plaice and cod, generally targeted by vessels operating beam trawls during the spring. Consultation with fishermen has also identified a small thornback ray gillnet fishery in the north-west of the Project site and occasional otter trawling for plaice, sole and thornback ray throughout the site. The cable route transects seasonal gillnet fisheries for bass, tope, smoothound and flatfish.
1.1.5 All vessels targeting these fisheries are under-15m in length. The VMS data also identified that there is no over-15m activity occurring within the vicinity of the Project. Although there is non-UK activity (generally Belgian and Irish, although France has historic rights to fish in the 6nm to 12nm limit) occurring within the regional study area, there are no records of foreign activity within the boundary of the Project as non-UK vessels are prohibited from fishing within the 6nm limit.
1.1.6 The majority of the vessels operating within the Project are based at small, local ports along the Welsh, Cheshire and Lancashire coasts. The majority of landings values from rectangle 35E6 are recoded as being into Rhyl and these landings represent a significant proportion of the ports total annual income.
1.1.7 From consultation it is understood that a limited number of charter boats, from both the Rhyl and Liverpool/Wirral area undertake angling and occasional scuba diving activities throughout the local study area, including within the Project site. The skippers of the vessels concerned stated that they target a number of species throughout the year.