Carmichael highlights problem of irresponsible offshore gillnetters following seal death


Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken out following social media images of a young seal having been killed by discarded gillnets off the coast of Shetland, calling for ministers to take enforcement against irresponsible offshore gillnetters more seriously. Mr Carmichael highlighted the problem of a lack of incentive for industrial offshore gillnetters to follow good practices relative to local vessels, and said that his upcoming meeting with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice needed to be a spur for renewed action.

Mr Carmichael said:

“The images seen on social media of a young seal pup tangled up and killed by a discarded gillnet on the shores of Shetland are deeply distressing. They are a reminder of the real impact that the industrial gillnetters in the open seas around Shetland have on our environment.

“Local fishermen would be the first to say that they often find local seals to be rather aggravating competitors for their catch. They know better than most, however, that our isles are all the richer for the ecological diversity that we are famous for and that this must be maintained. That is why local vessels do their best to follow initiatives like Fishing for Litter to limit the harm to the local environment. The danger is that while local vessels have a vested interest in following best practice with their nets, the major gillnetters from outside the isles have little incentive – and little enforcement – for them to behave responsibly.

“I have raised the dangerous and destructive behaviour of the offshore gillnetters with ministers many times before but the issues continue – I hope that my upcoming meeting with the Secretary of State may be a spur for this to be looked at seriously again with a view to action.”


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