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Fishing Forward UK claims Marine Scotland needs to better monitor the activities of non-UK fishing vessels

Fishing Forward UK has written to Marine Scotland accusing them of not protecting UK fishing interests when it comes to non-UK fishing vessels operating in Scottish waters.

The Shetland-based group has been raising concerns over Marine Scotland’s fisheries controls and the number of third country fishing vessels that is being licenced to fish in the waters around the UK since Brexit.

Founded in April 2021, Fishing Forward UK (FFUK) says that after decades of governmental failure to effectively protect and support remote coastal fishing communities, they believe it is their duty to protect the future of the UK fishing industry from government neglect and erroneous science.

The group has been active in highlighting the dumping of fishing gear by foreign boats which includes discarded longlines and gillnetting sheets which is becoming more and more common off places like the Shetland Islands.

The FFUK has also questioned the activity of Marine Scotland in providing protection to the UK fishing fleet and to the national fish stocks.

Recently they asked Marine Scotland about unmonitored landings. They received the statement which answered:

“Since the UK withdrew from the EU, all non-UK vessels fishing in UK waters have been required to possess a licence issued by the UK Single Issuing Authority (UKSIA). Details of these licences and permitted vessels are published on the UKSIA’s website.”

Replying to the Marine Scotland statement, Alastair Inkster, Chairman of FFUK said, “This statement above we all know but prior to the Fisheries Act gaining Royal Assent on 23rd November 2020 you had no legal jurisdiction over non-UK owned vessel’s fishing our waters which was kept very quiet. However, now that the Fisheries Act is UK law you “do” have jurisdiction over these vessels but choose to let them continue to land unmonitored and unregulated so you have absolutely no accurate record of fish or species being caught in our waters.”

The FFUK Chair says that recent events in Ireland, where the Irish Naval Service and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority detained several German-registered vessels for fisheries offences, should be acknowledged by Marine Scotland. He says:

“As head of “enforcement standards” this falls back on your desk to do the job you are paid to do and support the local fishing industry not constantly find an excuse to let these non-UK owned vessels fish freely in our EEZ unchecked. (Well in excess of 50 vessels) The landing data they are giving you is certainly open to questions given recent events in Ireland.”

Mr Inkster has accused Marine Scotland of not playing on a level-playing field when it comes national boats and UK flagged boats. He says:

“As we have said previously hounding the harassing the local fleet is not effective policing and you are quick to tell us when asked about the boarding statistics at sea that the bulk of the fleet are local vessel’s but strangely none of the UK flagships are boarded or if they are they are given a pre warning the day before. You will refute the last statement of course but we have evidence of this.”

Mr Inkster writes that Fishing Forward UK will continue the fight for justice. He concludes his letter saying:

“This sad situation cannot continue as you must know and we at Fishing Forward U.K will continue to search for the answers to these anomalies we find that need clarification. As we at FFUK have said previously we are willing to work with you to improve the situation but doing nothing is not an option.”

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Marine Scotland not protecting UK fishing interests claims Fishing Forward UK

by editor time to read: 7 min