Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Fishing watchdog sends out more than 1,000 letters a year over rule breaches

Post Thumbnail

Fishing vessels operating off the north and north-east coasts are being sent more than 1,000 letters every year over potential rule breaches.

Watchdog officers in Lerwick issue the highest number of the “advisory letters” in Scotland, including a total of 243 in 2018, 431 in 2017 and 454 in 2016.

The fishery office in Peterhead was the second busiest in terms of enforcement last year, followed by Fraserburgh, Kirkwall, Ullapool and then Scrabster.

The 1,361 letters issued in Scotland in 2018 was about 9% higher than the figures for 2017 and 2016, according to official data released by the Scottish Government.

Mike Park OBE, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said: “In the vast number of occasions the notes are sent out on the basis that it is obvious the issue is a clear oversight, such as not properly ensuring a landing declaration has been received by the department. This may be the result of IT issues and the like.

“Issues where law has been clearly broken are dealt with through fixed penalty notices where the person in question either pays the fixed penalty or it goes to court proceedings.”

The Marine Scotland agency, which runs the fishery offices, has been criticised by environmental groups in recent months for what some have claimed is a soft touch approach to regulation infringements, including illegal fishing.

The claims followed cases of illegal scallop dredging off the west coast last year.

The incident led to fines, but campaigners have said that the culprits should be named and shamed.

Sanctions available to Marine Scotland include advisory letters and verbal re-briefs for minor issues, but more serious breaches can result in warning letters, fixed penalty notices (FPN) or referral to the Crown Office for prosecution.

As well as the 1,361 advisory letters last year, data shows that there were also 246 verbal re-briefs, 34 written warnings, 36 FPNs and two referrals to the Crown Office.

Peter Chapman, Scottish Conservative shadow rural economy secretary, said: “The vast majority of our fishermen abide by the laws of the sea and take their responsibilities very seriously.

“However, it is only right that there are penalties in place for those who commit crimes.

“We know that illegal scallop dredging took place in Gairloch, for example, and fines were duly issued.

“It is up to Marine Scotland to enforce the law and make a judgement on whether a fixed penalty notice or a warning should be issued.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “One of Marine Scotland enforcement officers’ key roles is providing information to help people comply with legislation, particularly where it is complicated.

“Officers have discretion in terms of how to deal with offences. Minor offences may attract a verbal rebrief, followed by written confirmation.

“More serious sanctions are used when it is clear that a stronger message needs to be given and the nature and gravity of the offence suggest a less serious sanction might not have the desired effect of making someone comply.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from the Press and Journal Scottish politics team

More from the Press and Journal