Calls for three-mile limit for Scottish coast

Rogue fishermen, fisheries, Our Seas, 3 mile limit, 3nm

A coalition of more than 100 organisations has demanded that trawler boat fishing is banned from taking place anywhere within three miles of the Scottish coast.

Our Seas is an alliance of marine businesses, community groups, Scottish fishing associations, environmental and charitable organisations and marine recreational groups, raising awareness of the urgent need to protect the coastal seabed.

The group insisted that the “modernised” three-mile limit is “not a radical measure” and would benefit the environment as well as the country’s coastal communities.

In addition it was pressing both the Scottish government and the Scottish Greens party to consider the issue.

A previous ban was in place until it was revoked by the UK government in 1984, which Ailsa McLellan, Our Seas coalition co-ordinator, claims “led to what academics called ‘ecological meltdown'”.

“There are many marine policy areas where we want to see change, given this country’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to our marine ecology and economy,” she said.

“But a return to a modernised three-mile limit is the single measure which we collectively believe would bring the greatest benefits for our waters, our environment, and for this country’s coastal communities.

“This is not a radical measure – bottom-trawling was previously banned in our inshore waters – and it will make our seas and fisheries more resilient in the future.”

Three-mile Limit

Research by the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation, who form part of the coalition, found that for every thousand tonnes of langoustine caught by creeling rather than trawling, the Scottish economy would see more than £6.7 million in additional benefits, with more than £400,000 additional profit for the sector.

Its national co-ordinator, Alistair Sinclair, said: “Our members fish in a way which is genuinely sustainable for the long term, but the value of our fisheries are hampered by the activities of a poorly regulated minority.”

“A return of an inshore limit is really a compromise, and both parties should be persuaded to see it as such. It would bring back a little balance to the way this country manages its seas.

“It’s not an end to dredging and bottom-trawling, but would ensure they only operate in waters where those methods do much less damage.”

Annabel Lawrence, meanwhile, chair of the Community Association of Lochs and Sounds (CAOLAS), spoke of a desire to see change by a variety of industries including marine tourism, sea anglers and community activists.

“Being forced to live with the status quo, watching a small number of boats damage the seabed, is painful and frustrating,” she said.

“Politicians – both SNP and Green – need to make meaningful decisions now to end this destruction of our seabed. We need change, and that means protecting our most sensitive seas from the most damaging practices.”


A spokesperson for the Scottish government added: “We have made clear that sustainability is at the heart of how we will manage Scotland’s fisheries.

“In addition to our network of Marine Protected Areas, there are fishing controls and a policy of restrictive licensing in place to limit the number of Scottish scallop vessels, the number of days they fish, and technical measures … and minimum landing size of king scallops.

“It should be noted there are fewer nephrops, which includes scallops, being landed than a decade ago and there are fewer nephrop trawlers and more creel fishing vessels.

“Positive discussions between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens on a potential co-operation agreement are ongoing and a further report will be provided to parliament after the recess.”

This article was originally published as Calls for trawler fishing ban within three miles of Scottish coast at The Daily record.

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