LOCAL fishermen are up in arms after the German registered gill-netter Pesorsa Dos reappeared in the waters to the west of Shetland.
Last year, the Spanish owned vessel was in the centre of a huge controversy after the crew of the Alison Kay (LK57) posted a video that appeared to show the gill netter trying to foul the local trawler’s propeller.
At the time, UK and Scottish authorities said they were unable to intervene and investigate the serious allegations.
However, some weeks later the same vessel was detained by the Irish authorities for allegedly infringing EU fisheries regulations and was escorted to Killybegs.
Following Brexit and the “hugely disappointing” trade deal, the UK has become an independent coastal state, but EU vessels continue to have full access to UK waters until 2026.
The Spanish fleet are covering hundreds of square miles with their gill nets, making it impossible for the local fleet to fish their home grounds.
Fishermen have now privately written directly to the head of Marine Scotland seeking an explanation why the agency’s fisheries patrol vessels appear to avoid inspecting foreign vessels.
Their case has also be taken up by the isles’ parliamentarians who have vowed to make representations in Edinburgh and Whitehall.
MP Alistair Carmichael said: “This should come as no surprise to anyone. Last year they were caught on film deliberately trying to foul the propeller of the Shetland white fish trawler Alison Kay.
“Despite that neither Scottish nor UK enforcement authorities have even tried to prosecute them. Of course they will carry on fishing in these waters in these circumstances. Why wouldn’t they?
“Gill net trawling is an unsustainable practice and needs to be stopped. Until it is, we need to protect our fleet against the pirates that carry it out.”
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart, currently a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the Scottish Parliament elections, added that in the past fisheries ministers blamed the Common Fisheries Policy but that could no longer be an excuse.
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