Parliament agrees our call for fishing vessel trackers to stop illegal dredging

The Scottish Parliament tonight (11 Dec) agreed to a call from the Scottish Greens for tamper-proof fishing vessel trackers to clamp down on illegal activities such as scallop dredging.

Following this afternoon’s Sea Fisheries debate, MSPs voted by 62 to 31 to support the Green demand for robust vessel tracking and monitoring technology on all Scottish fishing boats.

It follows recent reports of illegal scallop dredging in protected areas including the Firth of Lorn near Oban and near Loch Gairloch in Wester Ross.

Scottish Greens food and farming spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP said:

"Illegal scallop dredging causes devastation to our marine ecosystems. We know that it is a tiny minority of the fishing sector that engages in this activity, but every time an incident is reported, the public loses a little more faith in our seafood sector.

"We have to urgently look at a full and comprehensive monitoring scheme for our fishing fleet that builds confidence in the sector again, whilst addressing the pressing issues facing our fish stocks. Remote Electronic Monitoring is the most up to date system available which combines satellite tracking with sensors and CCTV on board fishing vessels. It goes beyond the Vessel Monitoring Systems currently used in the industry, as it can provide near-live information not just about where a vessel is, but when it is actively fishing.

"Remote Electronic Monitoring across our full fishing fleet will deliver environmental and economic benefits. New Zealand is currently rolling out a digital monitoring scheme which is estimated to have a net benefit of over 75 million New Zealand dollars in the first 15 years.

"The government's support for our call today is a welcome step toward protecting our environment and the seafood sector of Scotland's economy."