It’s Time for the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency to Step Up!

Sovereignty believes that the Scottish Government must instruct the Fisheries Protection Agency to pick up their oversight role to protect those fishing boats, local and foreign, abiding by the rules, and to enforce the rules on those fishing boats, local and foreign, who do not abide by the rules. Sovereignty is committed to the long-term aim of Scottish waters for Scottish boats, allowing for reciprocal agreements.

  • Motion passed at the Sovereignty Annual Congress, Dundee, Saturday, 22 April 2023.

“Can we assume that we all support our local fishing boats in Scottish Waters?  We all want to have fish as an option on the menu.  Fish coming out of Scottish Waters is among the best fish in the world, an awful lot of it is exported all round Europe.  Fishing is a major boost to the economies of coastal communities, and keeps population in these areas.

What is not to love about fishing?  All political parties in Scotland, you would think, must support the fishing industry.

The Scottish Greens and HPMA are causing distress, meanwhile the SNP are not supporting the Scottish Fishing Industry; they are washing their hands of their responsibility.

Let me state this clearly; local fishing concerns, local jobs, local coastal communities are less important to the Scottish government than their long term goal of joining the EU.

They are, deliberately, ignoring the destructive gill net fishing activity undertaken by French and Spanish boats in Scottish Waters.

Spanish and French boats lay out miles of floating nets, hanging on cork with weighted bottoms.  The foreign boats often abandon their gill nets, effectively closing off these areas to local, and other, boats.  These abandoned nets catch fish and other marine life, strangled seals among them.

In Shetland, fishermen are cleaning up the mess of abandoned gill nets through KIMO’s Fishing for Litter scheme.

Another issue with abandoned nets is that propellers get tangled causing danger to those on board and to the boats; there is the loss of time due to untangling and the local boats bringing the nets ashore.

So, why are the Spanish and French gill netters behaving irresponsibly in Scottish waters?  The answer is because they can, and because they are allowed to.

What are Government priorities on fishing?  Our two governments have other concerns.  Fishing across the UK is small beer.  When trying to join the, then, Common Market, the government in London, signed up for the Common Fisheries Policy without even getting a translation of the policy.  The UK government has made such a mess of Brexit that small beer issues like fishing are well down the list to be dealt with.

The Scottish Government’s support for fishing is lip service.  They are so interested in returning to the EU that they are not calling out Spanish and French gill netters, they are deliberately ignoring their behaviour.

The Scottish Government seems set on running down the compliance efforts of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency[i], diverting them and others in Marine Scotland to sea based wind farm duties.

There are 3 Marine Protection Vessels; the Minna, the Jura and the Hirta.  There are 2 aircraft based in Inverness; Watchdog Alpha and Watchdog Bravo.  They are Reims Cessna Caravan II F-406 models.

The Spanish and French boats are getting away with doing what they want because they can. 

The Pesorsa Dos[ii] and Alison Kay incident is a case in point.  The Pesorsa Dos appeared to be trying to run a rope through Alison Kay’s propeller to give Pesorsa a free run.

Pesorsa Dos is Spanish owned but registered in Germany.  The German Federal Bureau for Maritime Casualty described the video evidence as dangerous, but as the incident seemed deliberate rather than negligent they have passed the evidence on to the German police.

Another aspect of potential misbehaviour is the Spanish and French boats not landing at markets, loading straight to vans thereby avoiding surveillance of their catch quota and species.

All of this is a dereliction of duty by the Scottish Government.  They are there to serve and protect all aspects of Scottish life, but with this approach they are promoting a policy detrimental to Scottish interests.

Just to make clear, this is not an anti-foreign boat statement, in Shetland Waters, at least, Norwegian gill netting boats cooperate with local boats, the Spanish and French boats choose not to.

The Scottish Government should get back on side with Scottish fishing and instruct the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency to put the effort into the oversight of fishing boats that they should have been doing all along.

I move the motion.”

Speech by Brian Nugent, Party Secretary, Sovereignty.

Picture by Ronnie Robertson – Jura _MG_2758, CC BY-SA 2.0,