Earlier this week, the Herald ran a front page story ‘Justice in secret for skippers that flout laws at sea’.
— HeraldScotland (@heraldscotland) August 12, 2019
The news article focussed on concerns raised after the Scottish Government declined to disclose the identity of vessels given fines for suspected illegal trawling inside Loch Gairloch, an area of inshore seabed known to hold vital habitat for spring spawning herring.
This is an issue we have been following for some time. Reports of illegal fishing in protected areas of Scotland’s seas are sadly all-too-frequent and despite increasing awareness of the problem, it’s still happening. This is in part due to the under-resourcing of fisheries enforcement in Scotland, but also because the legislative regime itself does not effectively deal with – and deter – illegal fishing. Sustainable fishermen, and our environment, are now paying the price: illegal dredging or trawling can entail huge collateral damage to marine wildlife and also compromise the sea’s productivity for other fisheries. Back in 2018, we collaborated with local divers to investigate the seabed after reports of illegal trawling in Loch Gairloch. In July this year, the Scottish Government confirmed that two vessels were issued ‘Fixed Penalty Notices’, each for £2,000 for illegally fishing inside the Gairloch closed area. [Read more…]