Marine / SIC convener keen for council to keep up pressure on gill netting

Council convener Andrea Manson. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THE COUNCIL will continue to look into the practice of industrial gill netting in waters around Shetland, convener Andrea Manson said.

However she stopped short of calling for a ban on gill netting from vessels sized more than 15 metres when asked by Green councillor Alex Armitage.

At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday Manson requested that a report be presented to a future development committee meeting.

It comes after the Shetland Greens and the local fishermen’s association joined forces this week in calling for action from the Scottish Government on “highly destructive” foreign gill netters.

A response from the government can be found here.

Gill netting uses huge monofilament plastic nets that cover vast areas of sea and are designed to catch everything swimming in their vicinity, often resulting in the entanglement of sea mammals and birds.

The nets are generally discarded in the water after use, posing a continued threat both to wildlife and to shipping traffic.


Newly elected Green councillor Armitage raised the matter through a rarely-used feature of the SIC’s governance framework which allows members to ask senior leadership formal questions.

“Industrial gillnetting is a highly destructive intensive fishing method which decimates marine life and threatens the viability of our coastal fishing economy in Shetland,” he said.

“Dumped gillnets, which are made from monofilament plastic and are kilometres long, cause entanglements of marine wildlife and are frequently trawled up by local fishers.

“The Shetland Fishermen’s Association, along with the Shetland Greens, are calling on the Scottish Government to end intensive gillnetting in Scottish waters.

“Will you join us in calling for a ban on gillnetting by boats over 15m – and stand up for the economy and ecology of our coastal communities?”

Manson explained that the matter has been on the agenda of KIMO – the international body designed to prevent pollution and protect the seas – for some time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


But calling for continued focus on the topic, Manson said it is “something we definitely will have a look at”.

The convener – who formerly chaired the council’s harbour board – said the report to the development committee would “see what sort of pressure we can put on”.

Armitage also noted that it was World Oceans Day, “so it’s a good for us to be discussing this issue”.

It comes nearly two years after a motion, backed by North Isles member Duncan Anderson, was approved by councillors calling on the SIC to make representation to the Scottish Government on the matter of discarded fishing gear.

Anderson said this week on social media that the council had received a “pathetic response – if any response at all” on the matter.

“Hopefully the Greens have a louder voice at Holyrood than the council did,” he said.

“The appalling ecological damage must end. If foreign vessels cannot or will not fish here responsibly, they should be banned from our waters.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.