Scottish Liberal Democrat and Shetland’s MSP, Beatrice Wishart, has today (Thursday 26th October), during a session of General Questions, asked what follow up actions the Scottish Government have taken in light of the ‘downright dangerous behaviour’ of the Antonio Maria.
Videos posted on social media last week allegedly showed the French-registered Antonio Maria on a collision course with the Shetland whitefish trawler Defiant while both boats were fishing in the waters off Unst.
Responding the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, Mairi Gougeon MSP, outlined that the Fishery Patrol Vessel, MPV Hirta was deployed to investigate the incident and reported back to the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA). Ms Gougeon stated a follow up meeting between the Scottish Government’s Marine Directorate, Police Scotland and the MCA is set to convene to discuss how to further support safety in the marine environment.
Ms Wishart asked:
“The Cabinet Secretary will be aware of the video showing aggressive and downright dangerous behaviour last week of the French-registered Spanish vessel Antonio Maria towards the Shetland fishing boat Defiant, 18 miles east of Unst. The Defiant had shot their gear when longliner Antonio Maria circled and tried to foul the Defiant’s propellor.
“This is not the first time there has been such an incident in waters off Shetland. The case of another Spanish vessel, the German-registered Pesorsa Dos is well documented.
“Constituents question where Scotland’s fishery protection vessels were in all this and what action, if any, they have taken following this latest shocking incident. Can the Cabinet Secretary respond to that point and can she also indicate what representations the Scottish Government has made to the UK Government and the flagged states about fishing vessels that appear to have little concern for safety at sea and fishermen’s lives?”
After the exchange Ms Wishart commented:
“I await with interest the outcome of the cross agency meeting seeking to improve safety at sea.
“While there is complex regulation and competence covering UK waters, ‘passing the buck’ cannot be the reason that such incidents are allowed to continue.
“This is not the first time there has been filmed evidence of aggressive behaviour by non-UK flagged boats against Shetland vessels. There needs to be a means to stop further such dangerous behaviour before there are fatalities.”
Notes to Editors
The full exchange can be seen here.