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Marine / Carmichael vents anger at gillnetting inaction

Alistair Carmichael. Photo: Shetland News

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has expressed his frustration with the “glacial” speed governments in Westminster and Edinburgh are responding to the gillnetting crisis in the waters off Shetland.

During a parliamentary debate on the environment earlier this week the Orkney and Shetland MP highlighted the damage caused by gill netters.

Challenging the SNP in the Westminster parliament Carmichael said it was “incomprehensible” that both the Scottish and the UK governments continued to allow industrial-scale fishing with gillnets.

He said the fishing method did not just leave a “massive amount of plastic pollution, but is an utterly unsustainable way of catching fish”.

Defending the Scottish Government’s stance on the issue, the SNP shadow spokesperson for the rural affairs Deirdre Brock said Marine Scotland was developing a Scottish marine protected area monitoring strategy.

“These are things that the Scottish Government are of course looking at—I am not sure about the UK Government’s position,” she said.

“He [Carmichael] will know that Marine Scotland and its partners have developed a Scottish marine protected area monitoring strategy, which will look at issues such as he has raised. 

“It also intends to add to the existing marine protected areas network, which will cover at least 10 per cent of Scotland’s seas, and is introducing a strengthened framework to help address situations such as the one he describes.

“I am well aware of the issues associated with gillnet fishing and the accumulated debris that it results in. We should certainly continue to press all governments on that matter, at all times. I am very much aware of that.”

Carmichael said: “There may be a heatwave in the UK at the moment but the pace of action on gillnetting remains glacial. 

“I have lost count of the number of ‘strategies’ and ‘consultations’ that have been launched over the years but in the meantime the amount of plastic pollution and other environmental harm only increases. 

“Both governments have a role to play and they must act now – it is time to end unsustainable gillnetting practices in our waters for good.”

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