The Shetland Fishermen’s Association has once again called on MCA to take action over illegal dumping of gillnets and longlines at sea. Photo: Shetland Fishermen’s Association
The Shetland Fishermen’s Association has once again highlighted the need for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to investigate and charge skippers who put lives in danger at sea.
The call comes after another of their fishing vessels found themselves fouled-up in discarded gillnets, unceremoniously dumped overboard at the end of its useful life.
For years now, the Shetland Fishermen’s Association has been calling on the Scottish government to take action against these rogue operators and finally the government launched the ‘Future Catching Policy Consultation’ which they believe will “regulate activity at sea in order to support the increased accountability of Scottish fisheries”.
In the meantime, the discarding of used gillnetting and longlines continue, an act that is both environmentally damaging and putting the lives of the crew onboard unwitting trawlers at risk.
The Shetland Fishermen’s Association vented their frustration over another vessel becoming entangled in ‘visiting boats’ discarded fishing gear. They said:
“Another year, another load of discarded gillnet that has been dumped in the seas around Shetland by a visiting vessel.
“Although Shetland fishermen bring it back to shore, and dispose of it properly, they shouldn’t have to make up for the environmentally irresponsible fishing practices of others.
“After it gets caught in their own fishing gear, local crews have to disentangle this discarded gillnetting on deck – often in poor weather.
“Industrial gillnetters and longliners operating around the isles are guilty of dumping masses of this plastic mesh netting – polluting our seas, harming wildlife, and causing damage to other vessels. They also cover increasingly large areas of the isles’ traditional fishing grounds, blocking them off to the Shetland fleet.
“We await the findings of the Scottish Government’s recent ‘Future Catching Policy’ consultation, which considered measures to better regulate and limit gillnet and longline fisheries.”