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Marine / Carmichael: ministers must sit down with fishing groups to end safety issues

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael in Parliament.

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has vowed to continue pushing the UK Government to legislate for greater safety of UK fishermen at sea following Brexit.

Two amendments tabled by the Orkney and Shetland MP, which would have a given the Maritime and Coastguard Agency powers outside of the current 12-mile limit, were not accepted by the Conservative government during the debate of the Fisheries Bill in the House of Commons late on Wednesday.

The bill will set out how fisheries in the UK should look post-Brexit.

Carmichael said he was disappointed by the government’s stance, but encouraged that the UK fishing minister Victoria Prentis has agreed to meet him for further discussions on the issue.

Speaking in the House of Commons last night, Carmichael raised the incident earlier this year when the German registered gill netter Pesorsa Dos allegedly attempted to cripple the propeller of the local whitefish trawler Alison Kay 30 miles west of Shetland.

“The incidents off ​Shetland demonstrate that there is no meaningful protection for our fishermen in those areas,” he said.

“Yes, fishing is a dangerous industry, but it should not be made more dangerous by the sort of recklessness that we keep seeing, and if the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has no powers to enforce that, it is only going to get worse.”

After the votes, Carmichael said the issue is “only likely to become more challenging in the coming months as we approach the end of the transition period and so I do not intend to let this matter go”.

“The minister offered to meet to discuss how to make progress on these issues and I have written to take her up on this,” he said.

“I look forward to meeting with her alongside representatives from affected fishermen to consider how we can prevent incidents like this happening again.”

Shetland Fishermen’s Association said prior to the debate that Carmichael’s amendment was “very welcome”.