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Letters / Start protecting our remote fishing communities

Shetland News prints a letter ex-fisherman Alastair Inkster sent to government agency Marine Scotland on Thursday:

Dear Sir

I am an ex fisherman of 30 years and now enjoy looking into the underlying workings of the industry and am shocked at the level of uncontrolled fishing taking place in our waters. I have read your future Fishing Plan and am disappointed at its lack of support for our industry, it basically says nothing tangible.

I would like to know who gives orders to our Marine Scotland for fisheries protection. Why are foreign fishing vessel never boarded and allowed to fish unmolested scot-free in our waters carrying out uncontrolled fishing. These vessels frequently land in Lerwick and their catches are never monitored, why?

I am led to believe the same is happening in other Scottish ports, why?

Our own fishing fleet are boarded and monitored on a regular basis and are happy to comply with your inspections and usually are polite and amiable. Why then are our vessels harassed by Marine Scotland to this level and foreigners not, why?

These gill net vessels are using around 50 miles of nets each to the west of Shetland and Scotland and basically squeezing out local boats.

The nets are left on the seabed for extended periods whilst the vessel is away landing and upon its return a lot of the catch is rotten and has to be dumped. This is totally uncontrolled and unacceptable, and not in keeping with your Fisheries Plan at all, why allow it?

This uncontrolled fishing flies in the face of your ‘Blue Economy’ I’m afraid why are you allowing it to continue?

Your Fisheries Plan 2020 – 2030 is a flowery document saying very little and I put it to you that you need to start protecting our remote fishing communities as foreign fishing in Scottish waters is totally out of control, why are you allowing it to continue?

I hope your organisation can answer these few questions as a lot of our remote communities rely upon fishing for their survival and at present are struggling with young men moving out and schools closing.

Yours sincerely,
Alastair Inkster
Hamnavoe