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Marine / Councillors call on SIC to raise issue of discarded fishing gear with government

A discarded gill net hauled up by a local trawler and taken ashore for disposal.

TWO councillors are calling for more to be done to address the “growing problem” of marine pollution resulting from discarded fishing gear in waters around Shetland.

North Isles members Duncan Anderson and Alec Priest have lodged a motion with Shetland Islands Council which calls on the local authority to make representations to Marine Scotland, the coastguard and the Scottish Government on the issue.

The motion will be heard at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (9 September). It needs the support of the chamber to be passed.

Councillor Duncan Anderson. Photo: Shetland News

It reads: “In recent years I have become aware of many reports from local fishermen and even the Shetland Fishermen’s Association regarding the increasing level of marine pollution from discarded fishing gear, primarily of the type utilised by mainly French and Spanish owned long liners and gill netters which operate in the waters around Shetland.

“There have also been stories of aggressive behaviour and closing off vast areas of seabed. One of these alleged incidents was videoed and well publicised recently.

“The problem does not seem to be going away, even one of our own ferries, the MV Filla, has wound up in this gear in recent months.

“In a short time period, I was able to obtain many photos taken by local vessels of gear they have either trawled up or have been fouled with. Some of these are included with this agenda.

“With the condition of the marine environment being of paramount importance to Shetland, I would like to move that the Shetland Islands Council makes official representation to Marine Scotland, the MCA and the Scottish Government to address this growing problem.”

A local fisherman recently got in touch with Shetland News to raise concerns about the amount of rubbish such as discarded gear they come across when fishing the waters around Shetland.