Rural Affairs Committee confirm inquiry into management of Scotland’s inshore fisheries
Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee will take evidence from fishermen, environmental and community interests, including organisations from the Our Seas coalition on 26 October in a preliminary inquiry into the management of Scotland’s inshore fisheries.
The roundtable evidence session follows a request made by Fish Legal in May 2022 to the Scottish Parliament committee, urging reform to address the long-standing declines in the environmental and economic health of Scotland’s inshore fisheries. The session will be structured around sustainable fisheries, industry pressures, competition for marine space and inshore fisheries management and governance.
The overarching purpose of the evidence session is to improve the Committee’s understanding of the key issues facing the inshore fisheries sector and will help shape more specific inquiry work at a later date.
Robert Younger of Fish Legal said “We welcome the Rural Affairs committee crucial investigation into the management of Scotland’s inshore fisheries. There is an increasing realisation that our inshore has been devastated as a result of decades of damaging bottom-trawl fishing. We and others will be providing evidence to the committee that the Scottish Government is in breach of its legal and policy obligations to manage our inshore fisheries sustainably and in a way that can allow fish populations cannot recover.”
Ailsa McLellan of Our Seas said “Our Seas represents a coalition of over 130 organisations with an interest in the recovery of Scotland inshore fisheries for public benefit. Ever since the removal of the three-mile limit on bottom-trawling in the 1980s communities across Scotland have been repeatedly let down by policies that prioritise unsustainable fishing practices at the expense of our precious coastal seas and its now depleted fish populations. We hope that the Rural Affairs committee will hold Government to account and recommend bold action to bring back healthy fish populations to our coastal seas. A just transition to more sustainable fisheries would bring big social and economic benefits at a time when they are desperately needed.”
Alistair Philp of Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation said “We in the creel sector recognise that for the inshore to recover there needs to a move away from damaging industrial fishing to lower impact fishing techniques such as creeling. We hope that the Rural Affairs committee recognises that a transition from high impact to low impact fishing can play a huge role in the economic and environmental recovery of the inshore.”
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. Fish Legal hope that the inquiry will highlight and inform the RAINE Committee on these issues.