The two largest fishing associations in Scotland want to see Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) investigate and charge skippers who put lives in danger at sea. This follows an incident in which a Spanish-owned, German-registered gill netter made an attempt to foul the propeller of a Shetland trawler.
The incident was captured on video and has been widely shared on social media as the Hamburg-registered Pesorsa Dos, one of a number of German-flagged fishing vessels operating from La Coruña, manoeuvred in close proximity to the trawler as the rope was deployed.
‘We have been fighting this battle for many years sadly, but the number and severity of incidents involving Scottish vessels has increased markedly in recent times. Notwithstanding the pressures that exist from working in close proximity with other fishermen these tensions should never escalate to the point where life is put in jeopardy,’ said SWFPA chief executive Mike Park.
‘It is time for the MCA to invoke the collision regulations within the 1995 Merchant Shipping Act and clamp down on these potentially life-threatening activities before it is too late. The behaviour of some skippers has been totally out of order and we need urgent action to bring it to a halt.’
In a joint statement, the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA) and Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) state the MCA must start taking action before a fatality occurred.
‘These semi-permanent gill-nets are covering increasingly large areas of the seas around Shetland, which is a massive problem for our fishermen who are unable to fish in traditional areas,’ SFA Chairman Leslie Tait said.
‘The operators of these boats are also guilty of dumping masses of plastic mesh netting when they are finished with them, polluting our seas and causing damage to our vessels. Even one of the inter-island car ferries operated by Shetland Islands Council has fallen foul of discarded gill-nets. When it gets to the stage when one of these vessels is actively and repeatedly attempting to foul the propeller of one of our boats, the authorities must crack down at once.”