Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called on the government to take up the “truly shocking” case of the Antonio Maria with authorities in France, following the near-collision with a Shetland trawler earlier this week. In response, Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer MP condemned what he called a “deliberate act” of sabotage.
Videos posted on social media this week allegedly show the French-registered Antonio Maria on collision course with the isles trawler Defiant while both boats were fishing in the waters around Shetland.
Speaking in the House Mr Carmichael said:
“I wonder whether the Minister has seen the video footage that is doing the rounds of the recent incident involving the Spanish longliner Antonio Maria trying to ram the Shetland whitefish boat Defiant; in fact, it put out a rope to foul its propeller. The footage is truly shocking, but the real scandal is that this is not the first time it has happened; it is at least the third documented incident in recent times.
“This will keep happening unless something is done to stop it, so will the Minister speak to his colleagues in the Department for Transport and the Foreign Office to make sure that France, as the flag state with enforcement powers in this case, takes its responsibility seriously?
Responding for the government, the Fisheries Minister, Mark Spencer MP said:
“I have seen that footage. It is truly shocking. This was a deliberate act to try to sabotage a UK fishing boat. It was outrageous behaviour. Enforcement is difficult, because the incident involved a Spanish boat under a French flag, but given the seriousness of the event I will most certainly raise it with my ministerial colleagues.”
Reacting after the exchange Mr Carmichael said:
“I am glad that the minister was aware of the incident and will take it up with his colleagues but this is hardly the first instance of such misbehaviour in the waters around Shetland. Until we find a better way to bring consequences to those who act recklessly at sea then this will keep on happening.
“If direct enforcement is not possible outside of territorial waters then the government needs to look at indirect methods. Other countries to stop this aggressive behaviour. It cannot be beyond the wit of man for our own government to do the same.”