New regulation of inshore fishing gear

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 18 May 2018 in News

Scottish Government says new rules on the marking of static fishing gear will improve safety in the Scottish inshore fishing sector

Image credit: Robert F. Bukaty/AP/Press Association Images

The Scottish Government has introduced new rules on the marking of static fishing gear in an attempt to improve safety in the Scottish inshore fishing sector.

A 2015 survey of 300 Scottish fishermen found that gear conflict cost the industry about £1.2m every year.

New measures will tighten rules to stop boats using “inappropriate items”, such as milk cartons and netted footballs to mark gear, while licensed fishermen will be required to mark buoys with their vessels’ port letters and numbers.

Ministers said best practice guidance, which will affect those fishing within 12 nautical miles of the coast, will be issued in summer 2018, with legislation expected to come into force in spring 2019 requiring licensed fishermen to mark their gear with information on their vessels’ port.

Alistair Sinclair from the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation said:  “This initiative is a progressive and positive step towards ensuring gear marking is appropriate and fit for purpose. Work to estimate the amount of gear used by unlicensed fishermen is particularly welcome. The SCFF looks forward to continuing working with the Scottish Government to improve interaction between mobile and static fishermen.”

Under the plans, developed following a consultation, unlicensed fishermen will be expected to mark their gear with a unique reference number provided by Marine Scotland.

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “By introducing a mixture of legislation and guidance, we will be able to address these safety issues, improve the marine environment and make it easier for any gear accidentally towed or lost to be returned to its owner. We are also taking into account the concerns of fishermen worried about the impact to their business of gear loss during adverse weather or strong tides.

“These measures tie in with our efforts to deliver real improvements through our Inshore Fisheries Strategy so our fishermen can benefit from a more sustainable, profitable and well managed Scottish inshore fishing sector.”

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