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Small fishing boats in Scotland could be tracked under new plans

A new consultation proposes that tracking devices be fitted to all commercial fishing vessels under 12 metres long <i>(Image: (c) copyright newzulu.com)</i>
A new consultation proposes that tracking devices be fitted to all commercial fishing vessels under 12 metres long (Image: (c) copyright newzulu.com)

SMALL fishing vessels could be required to use tracking and monitoring systems under new proposals from the Scottish Government.

A new consultation proposes that the devices be fitted to all commercial fishing vessels under 12 metres long.

They are already required for vessels longer than this while fishing in waters around Europe.

The Government also published the outcome of other fishing consultations, saying remote electronic monitoring – which is more sophisticated than vessel tracking – will become mandatory on large pelagic vessels and scallop dredgers.

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Environment minister Gillian Martin met with fishing industry representatives in Peterhead on Monday.

She said: “These proposals will support the sustainable management and development of our marine environment – the next step in delivering a blue economy that benefits our communities, economy and environment.

“I encourage the inshore sector and others with an interest to continue to engage with us and to take part in the consultation on vessel monitoring.

“Government, industry and communities all have a shared interest and commitment to a healthy marine environment.

“Open dialogue and constructive working of the sort that has helped to develop these proposals will ensure that we benefit from the expertise of the fishing industry.

“Co-operation and co-management will ensure that both Scotland’s fishing industry and our marine environment can thrive sustainably.”

Last week, environmental campaigners called for mandatory tracking of inshore fishing vessels after endangered flapper skate were allegedly caught and dumped off Argyll.

Marine Scotland is investigating the incident off the Isle of Gigha after conservationists released an underwater video showing three of the endangered species among “hundreds” of dead fish.

A spokesman for marine protection organisation Open Seas said: “Whilst it’s welcome to see the Scottish Government update on their plans for the small-scale fleet, these new proposals will not address the most serious and ongoing problem of bycatch across the bottom-trawl fleet, where high volumes of fish are being caught in trawl nets and often discarded at sea.

"We acknowledge that industry has taken some steps to address bycatch, but as it stands larger trawlers have only basic vessel tracking in place, so this wasteful bycatch of fish continues mostly unrecorded and hidden from public view.

"The Scottish Government must roll-out Remote Electronic Monitoring to the over 12 metre trawl fleet to manage these high bycatch fisheries and recover depleted fish populations.”