Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has pushed the government to protect UK fishermen and afford maritime agencies greater jurisdiction in UK waters to ensure safety at sea. Mr Carmichael tabled two amendments to the Fisheries Bill, which would bridge the current gap in the law demonstrated by the Pesorsa Dos incident off Shetland this summer. The responding minister agreed to meet with Mr Carmichael and others to make progress on the concerns raised by local fishermen.
Speaking in the House last night, Mr Carmichael said,
“Constituents of mine were crewing the Alison Kay in grounds that have long been used for the Shetland fleet. The skipper of the Pesorsa Dos tried to muscle the Alison Kay out of those fishing grounds. What followed was utterly reckless. The Pesorsa Dos skipper shot a rope into the water in a deliberate attempt to foul the propeller of the Alison Kay. Goodness only knows what might have happened to that boat if he had been successful. That was not the first instance of that sort but those videos were then posted online, and people were able to see it for themselves.”
“The incidents off Shetland demonstrate that there is no meaningful protection for our fishermen in those areas. Yes, fishing is a dangerous industry, but it should not be made more dangerous by the sort of recklessness that we keep seeing, and if the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has no powers to enforce that, it is only going to get worse.”
Reacting after the votes, Mr Carmichael said:
“I am disappointed that the amendments were not accepted. This issue is only likely to become more challenging in the coming months as we approach the end of the transition period and so I do not intend to let this matter go.
“The Minister offered to meet to discuss how to make progress on these issues and I have written to take her up on this. I look forward to meeting with her alongside representatives from affected fishermen to consider how we can prevent incidents like this happening again.”