Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken out about a “crisis of confidence” in the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency, following evidence that the agency was targeting local vessels more than international fishing boats for inspections. Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland Mr Carmichael highlighted the problems found with centralised, distant authorities for fisheries and called for a redesign in fisheries management.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Fishermen have a crisis in confidence with the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency. Scottish fishermen feel they aren’t getting a fair crack of the whip and are being targeted unfairly by our own authorities. Local fishermen are being inspected at over five times the rate of international vessels by the Scottish Government’s own data, and the excuses given for this come across as just that – excuses.
“We have an opportunity to redesign our fisheries management, taking away control from ministers and civil servants and bringing it closer to the coastal island communities that are affected by it. We need to bring in the people who have a real stake in management like the fishermen and scientists.
“You will never improve fisheries management by centralising it and that is true of Edinburgh as it was of Brussels. Too often the science and expert views are ignored – a recurring problem in the Common Fisheries Policy that we need to improve on.”
“Too often I hear politicians talking about fishermen without taking the time to actually talk with fishermen. It’s time to stop using fishing as a political football in constitutional games and offer actual reform of fisheries management.”