Fish Legal, with the support of Scotland’s leading fisheries and wildlife organisations, have requested that the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee holds an inquiry into the management of Scotland’s inshore fisheries.
The groups involved hope that such an inquiry will investigate the extent to which current fisheries management of ‘the inshore’ meets Scotland’s legislative and policy commitments and delivers in the national interest.
Supported by The Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Open Seas, Our Seas, The Community of Arran Seabed Trust and Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation, Fish Legal submitted the request on 20th May 2022.
Scotland’s inshore waters cover a massive 88,000 km2 and are important for ecological, economic, and cultural reasons. Fish Legal believe that the management of the inshore needs to be urgently reformed by addressing unsustainable fishing practices and reforming inadequate fisheries governance structures.
Currently less than 2.5% of the inshore is protected from bottom trawled gears. This will increase to 10% with the advent of Highly Protected Marine Areas but that still leaves 90% unprotected.
Key themes and questions which Fish Legal believe an inquiry should consider include:
- The Scottish Government’s legal and policy commitments.
- Scotland’s inshore fishery stakeholders
- The health of inshore ecosystem
- Our inshore fisheries
- Understanding sustainability
Robert Younger solicitor at Fish Legal said “There are a number factors that together make a parliamentary inquiry an urgent priority. These include not just the devasting impacts of the removal of the 3 mile limit protecting the inshore from trawled fishing gears in 1985 but also the climate emergency, the biodiversity crisis, our failure to meet Good Environmental Status, the crash in our inshore fish populations, the chronic decline of our inshore fisheries and much else.”
Charles Millar, Executive Director of The Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust said ‘We would welcome Parliamentary scrutiny of Scotland’s inshore fisheries. We expect that an inquiry by the Rural Affairs Committee into how the fishery is run, and how it should be run, would shine a much needed light on this vitally important sector. This should pressurise the Scottish Government, at last, to bring forward reforms that put coastal communities, environmental sustainability and climate change at the heart of inshore fisheries management.’
Nick Underdown of the Our Seas campaign said “Our Seas represents over 130 stakeholders with a wide range of interests in the inshore and who are very unhappy with the way it is being managed by Marine Scotland. We would strongly welcome a parliamentary inquiry into the how this vital resource which is of importance to so many people and organisations can be better managed”
Alistair Philp National Co-ordinator of the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation “Those of us fishing in the inshore in recent years have witnessed the declining health and productivity of these waters. Unfortunately, the widespread use of damaging trawled fishing gear has fundamentally impacted the health our inshore seas, with stocks of white fish, including cod, moving towards extinction. We believe that the inshore can recover but only if fishery plans are put in place to allow that to happen. We call on RAINE committee to investigate management of the inshore and help bring much needed change”.
Fish Legal is a not-for-profit organisation of dedicated lawyers who use the law on behalf of angler members to fight polluters and others who damage and threaten the water environment. Fish Legal secures compensation for its members to help restore polluted waters and challenges Government and regulators when they fail to protect fisheries.
The Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT) is a charity which promotes the sustainable management of Scotland’s inshore waters so that they provide the maximum long term socio-economic benefits to all Scotland’s coastal communities.
National Trust for Scotland is the largest membership organisation in Scotland, and it champions Scotland’s natural, built, and cultural heritage.
Open Seas is a charity dedicated to the protection of our marine environment and the promotion of sustainable fishing methods.
Our Seas is an alliance of over 130 Scottish organisations, businesses, communities, and individuals that support a move to the sustainable use of our coastal seas.
The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) is community led organisation that has made a huge difference to the conservation and restoration of the seas around Arran and the Firth of Clyde for the past 25 years. It stands for the importance of a diverse, abundant, and beautiful marine environment for everyone.
Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation represents the interests of creeling and scallop diving and works to promote low impact fishing.