LAST WEEK’S incident between local whitefish trawler Alison Kay and Spanish owned but German registered gill-netter Pesorsa Dos off the west coast of Shetland is being looked at by the German authorities.
Video footage shared by fishermen on social media last week appeared to show the Pesorsa Dos trying to run a rope through the Alison Kay’s propeller in an attempt to incapacitate her.
Both the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the German Federal Bureau for Maritime Casualty Investigation described the video evidence as “dangerous” and said it “could have had serious consequences”.
The case has now been passed to the a specialist unit of the German federal police tasked with investigating such incidents involving German registered vessels after the MCA said it had no jurisdiction to investigate any incident outside the UK’s 12-mile zone.
Local fishermen say they are systematically driven out of their traditional fishing grounds by EU boats while Spanish fishermen claim they have been fishing in the area for decades and do so legally.
Skipper of the Alison Kay James Anderson said earlier this week: “They now quite boldly tell us that we need to move, and when we tell them that we won’t move then we get things like what happened the other night.”
The 46-year old Pesorsa Dos is owned by SEAMAR GmbH [Ltd], registered in the German Baltic town of Lübeck, but the company is run from La Coruna in Spain by businessmen Antonio Luis Fojo Duran and Eusebio Fernández Lage.
When contacted earlier this week a company representative for SEAMAR in Lübeck said he was aware of the incident and expected the German authorities to be in touch at some stage.
He said the company was mainly fishing for monkfish. The position of the gill-nets are usually communicated via VHF channel 16 so that other fishing vessels nearby know what areas to avoid.
And he said that it was his understanding that two local fishing vessels had been involved in the confrontation and added that international fishing regulations required trawlers to stay away from areas with static equipment such as gill nets.
Office staff at SEAMAR’s La Coruna office pretended not to speak English and hung up when called by Shetland News on Friday.
A spokesman for the German Federal Bureau for Maritime Casualty Investigation said investigators at the agency had spent some considerable time assessing the video posted on social media and described the encounter as “dangerous”, particularly the towing of a line which had a buoy attached.
Because these actions appear to have been carried out maliciously and not just negligently, the German equivalent to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) felt the incident was not within its remit and consequently have passed it on to the police.
Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, who wrote to the MCA earlier in the week, said on Friday: “Cases like this show the importance of any country that flags vessels taking their responsibility seriously.
“No fisherman out to make a living should have to tolerate this sort of recklessness.”
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