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Tackling unlicensed commercial fishing

Published: 1 Feb 2016 09:47

Fisheries Secretary introduces new measures.

Catch limits will be set for key shellfish species to prevent and deter unlicensed fishermen from selling their catch illegally, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said today.

Last year the Scottish Government consulted on a number of measures to tackle the longstanding issue of fishermen selling their catch without a licence. After taking into account the views of the industry, a catch limit will now be set to prevent the illegal selling of fish by those without a licence. We will work with the industry to set an appropriate catch limit.

The Scottish Government will also continue to target unlicensed commercial fishermen at sea and work with buyers of the catch to ensure they comply with regulations to prevent unlicensed commercial fishing.

Mr Lochhead said:

"We have heard from the industry about the detrimental impact that unlicensed fishing is having on our fishermen. This is why we must introduce catch limits to prevent others from selling their catch illegally.

"These measures will help clarify the situation for fishermen. We want to make sure that those who operate unlicensed fishing vessels and who chose to sell their catches are aware of the need to have a licence and the consequences of not having one.

"I intend to review the measures to monitor their effectiveness and look to introducing further measures if necessary."

Notes to editors

The outcome report, Promoting Best Practice for Inshore Fisheries: Outcome Report on a consultation on measures for hobby/unlicensed fishermen in Scottish inshore waters." can be found here:

No licence is required by ordinary members of the public who intend to catch a small number of fish for their own consumption but they are not permitted to sell anything they catch for profit. There are particular hotspots of unlicensed commercial fishing activity around the coast and during spring/summer months.

Marine Scotland will continue to target unlicensed fishermen selling their catch illegally. Marine Scotland Compliance has a recognised presence in all Scottish Inshore waters with regular use of Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs). Inshore patrols now ensure that sea going officers are in closer contact with Scotland's inshore fishermen and are policing vessels that fish unlicensed or indeed are operated by hobby fishermen.

The sea going presence has been met well with industry particularly where inshore fishermen have taken the opportunity to discuss inshore concerns with Marine Scotland Compliance Officers in the course of routine boardings. Officers continue to work in conjunction with sea going inspections and visits to buyers under the legislation brought in in 2005 to ensure that companies are registered as buyers and that they only buy from vessels that are registered and hold a valid UK fishing vessel license.