The recent incident of illegal dredging in a Scottish MPA has exposed a serious problem for producers and consumers of Scottish seafood, highlighting that we don’t know, with any geographical accuracy, where much our seafood comes from. Our follow up investigations suggest that legally and illegally caught fish and shellfish is being sold alongside one another, with buyers unable to distinguish legal catches from illicit ones. With increasing consumer demand for sustainable food with assured provenance and traceability, this article explores how improved vessel monitoring can solve the pressing problem of “grey fish” – fish of no proven origin – in our supply chains.
On Friday 25th January, two scallop fishermen – Davy Stinson and Steve Barlow – hand-diving for King scallops off Scotland’s west coast, encountered evidence of damage to the seabed consistent with scallop dredging. The divers saw the tracks of scallop dredges on the seabed and a trail of broken scallop shells. The shells were cracked open, containing the scallop flesh, or ‘meat’, still inside, indicating that the damage had been inflicted recently (seabed scavengers, like crabs and lobsters had not yet moved in to eat the dying shellfish). Dredge damage is unfortunately not an unusual sight, but this damage was witnessed inside a Marine Protected Area – and also a Special Area of Conservation, designated under EU law – where scallop dredging has been banned since 2007. [Read more…]