Danish nephrops fishing vessels have been accused of flouting Scottish regulations on using multi-rig trawl nets
Marine Scotland are currently investigating several incidents where Danish trawlers have reportedly broken regulations in Scottish waters.
A dozen or so Danish nephrop trawlers were spotted back on the Fladen grounds, east of the Shetland Islands, last week using multi-rigs of more than two nets which illegal under Scottish law.
Earlier in March, the twelve trawlers had come onto the grounds operating their multi-rig system but after a communication between the Scottish White Fish Producers Organisation (SWFPA) and the Danish Fishermen’s Association it was believed that an understanding was reached whereby the Danish trawlers agreed to abide by the Scottish regulations.
The Danish Fisheries Association had issued their members with a notice to read their licence for the UK waters carefully and to follow the regulations whilst working in Scottish waters.
On Thursday, 01 April, a Scottish fishing vessel observed a Danish vessel operating in the area and noticed the vessel hauling a multi-rig that was not the permitted two-net multi-rig as prescribed under Scottish Statutory Instrument 13/2007.
Photos of the vessel were sent to Marine Scotland who informed the skipper and the SWFPA that an investigation would be carried out.
It was reported that the Marine Scotland fisheries patrol vessel Hirta had attempted to contact one of the Danish fishing vessels but had to wait an hour to establish contact as the skipper of the vessel said that he was not in the wheelhouse but was on deck working prawns. The vessel later left the grounds.
Mike Park, CEO of the SWFPA said that Marine Scotland had told him that they are monitoring the situation.
He said, “The Danish vessels are aware of the law in the Scottish zone. All the relevant legislation has been sent to the Head of the Association in Denmark. I talked to their Association Chairman in Denmark to make them aware of it. So, they are aware of the requirements in Scottish waters, in terms of the prohibition of fishing with more than two nets and they are operating in the Fladen areas with more than two nets, then they are willfully ignoring the law.”
Mr Park said that they have always had a close working relationship with their Danish colleagues, and he hoped the situation would be resolved for the good of both sides.
It has been reported that two Danish fishing boats have received have cautions and fixed penalty notices for the incidents on the Fladen grounds but this has to be confirmed by Marine Scotland.
By Oliver McBride