FISHERMEN have described the conduct of Spanish gill-netters to the northwest of Shetland as “intolerable” after video footage was posted on social media showing a Spanish gill-netter allegedly attempting to run a rope through the propeller of a local whitefish trawler.
This latest video evidence takes the ongoing skirmishes over access to fishing grounds to a new level and highlights why the local fishing industry is so keen to leave the European Union, and with it the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The battle between Spanish gill-netters and local trawler men has been ongoing for a long time with most local whitefish boats reporting over the years that they have been at the receiving end of attempts to drive them out of their traditional fishing grounds.
Gill nets are entangling nets set in the sea and held in position by floaters. They can cover huge areas and thus prevent other fishermen to work in those areas.
Spanish fishermen counter claim that Scottish whitefish boats deliberately trawl through the areas where nets have been set.
Last night several fishermen posted video footage showing the German-registered and Spanish owned gill-netter Pesorsa Dos attempting to foul the propeller of one whitefish boat, the Alison Kay.
Reports from last night state that there have been five or six attempts to disable the vessel by putting a rope through her propeller.
The Spanish vessels are fishing legally in Scottish waters as part of the CFP, but this behaviour has been condemned as “intimidating” and “breaking the fundamental rules of the sea”.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) executive officer Simon Collins said the incident would be reported to the authorities.
He described the behaviour of the gill netter as “horrendous” and “intolerable”.
“Imagine, if we as Shetlanders would conduct ourselves in that way in Spanish waters, what would happen to us?
“We report these things to the authorities, we are working actively with Scottish Government on what we can do about it. But we don’t control the rules out there; once we do, we can try and find a solution to it.
“In the longer term we need to remove that problem altogether by severely restricting activities, once we are allowed to do that.”
The SFA is strongly opposing any attempts to extend the transition period for Brexit and it insists that the UK comes out of the EU by 31 December.
Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has meanwhile called for an urgent response from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) following the incident.
In a letter to the agency’s chief executive Brian Johnson he demanded action from the government.
He said: “These allegations are extremely concerning and demand an immediate response from the MCA. This is not the first time that we have had reports of aggressive and dangerous behaviour by Spanish trawlers in these waters. This footage brings home just how dangerous such behaviour can be.
“This is more than an issue of fisheries management, this is about basic maritime safety. The MCA must act accordingly. Fishermen should not expect harassment or unsafe practices from other vessels, no matter the political context.”
See they are at it again!!
Posted by Sigmund Danielsen on Friday, 12 June 2020
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