Fishermen 'unfairly targeted by our own authorities', says Jamie Stone
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North MP Jamie Stone has raised concerns about the UK's fisheries management after it emerged that domestic vessels have been targeted more than international fishing boats for inspections.
In a Freedom of Information request published by the Scottish Government, it was revealed that last year 586 UK boats were inspected at ports compared with 106 international boats. Over the same year, 104 UK boats were inspected at sea compared with 49 international boats.
The findings show that between January and February 2021 the Marine Management Organisation spent £2.2 million and 3372 hours on sea surveillance. Patrol vessels failed to conduct a single inspection of non-British fishing boats at sea.
During the same period, 28 inspections were carried out on British fishing boats and just three on EU vessels.
Mr Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, claimed the data confirms a worrying trend that UK fishermen are being failed by the Scottish and Westminster governments and unfairly targeted.
“North Sea fishermen who are responsible for the incredible fish we export from the Highlands are being unfairly targeted by our own authorities," he said.
"The Tories have shown their complete incompetence on fishing by strangling profits with their Brexit bureaucracy, while the SNP bury their head in the sand completely by refusing to look at the need to redesign our fisheries management. Time and time again, it is the fishing industry that has been made to suffer.
"The latest evidence about inspections make clear that what we have right now is not working. All I ask of the Tories and the SNP is that they listen to fishermen, rather than just use them as a political football.
"The Liberal Democrats are clear – the recovery of coastal communities means working with fishermen and scientists to manage our waters as sustainably and as locally as possible. That means decentralising fisheries management to the people who know our waters best.
"It means respecting their experience and expertise. It means putting their economic recovery first, not jeopardising it with bureaucracy."