Scallop dredging pulverises our seabed, and yet it is permitted through about 95% of our coastal seas. What we have seen in Gairloch are the actions of a few greedy fishermen, for whom 95% of it is not enough. These scallopers have decided to decimate one of the few small areas protected from this damaging form of fishing.
We need to get this fishery out of our sensitive and vulnerable coastal sea, unless in areas where the fishery can itself prove it is sustainable for it to be there. We also need to establish a proper means of tracking the boats so that illegal fishing like this is stamped out for good.
The blame in this instance lands firmly with Scottish Ministers. The current regulation of scallop dredging is pitifully inadequate. This Government is failing to protect our natural heritage by allowing one of the only places where herring are still spawning to be destroyed in this way. Unless they take action soon, they will be turning their back on not only our marine environment, but the future of our fisheries and the rural economy in places like Wester Ross. Real stewardship of our seabed would be to the long-term benefit of Scotland.
In just four years, scallop landings in Scotland have declined by roughly 30% (2013-2017). There is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed urgently.
For more information and background to this issue, read ‘Probe into alleged scallop dredging in protected area‘.
We will continue to update our own news page with more detail.