The Cruising Association is delighted that the Scottish Government has now decided to take steps towards the better marking of creel/lobster pots and also towards making unlicensed fishermen more identifiable for the purposes of enforcement.
When the CA RATS (Regulations and Technical Services) Committee submitted its comments during their ‘Gear Conflict’ consultation in 2016/7 RATS said, amongst other things: “We believe that marker buoys and floats not only reduce accidental gear conflict but also have a role to play in reducing accidental entanglement of propeller shafts and rudders of non-fishing vessels such as cruising yachts and other recreational craft.
“The size of the buoy is significant not only for visual identification at a sufficient distance to take avoiding action, but also in providing sufficient buoyancy to maximise deflection should there be contact with a passing vessel.”
The CA therefore welcomes the very clear wording of the Marine Scotland response to the consultation: It is clear that some fishermen are marking gear using inappropriate equipment that result in poor visibility and/or poorly secured marking equipment. Marine Scotland will therefore introduce regulations which will ban the use of equipment not manufactured for the purpose of marking fishing gear. This will outlaw the use of objects such as plastic milk cartons and netted footballs.
The CA knows that the fishermen’s organisation such as NFFO (National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations) and SCFF (Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation) have been pressing for action against unlicensed fishermen who may have a vested interest in using very small pot markers and support them in that and therefore welcomes the proposal to also introduce regulations requiring all unlicensed fishermen to mark their gear with a unique reference number which will be issued on request by the local Marine Scotland Fishery Office. The regulations will also require licensed fishermen to mark their gear with the PLN.
The CA’s well-regarded campaign about this issue of maritime safety continues. RATS members are in discussion with the Civil Service as to the next steps and will also be reporting back to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries who have shown a supportive interest.
The Marine Scotland Response to the Consultation on Draft Proposals for Requirements for Static Gear Deployed within 12 Nautical Miles of Scottish Baselines Executive Summary is available to read here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2018/05/7812