Scotland tightens restrictions on marking of lobster pots
New laws to ban the use of milk bottles and other inappropriate equipment to mark creel and lobster pots in Scotland are to be introduced.
Marine Scotland has issued new guidance to fishermen, setting out best practices for marking static gear within 12 miles of the low water line around the coast.
By spring 2019, all licensed fishermen will be required to mark buoys with their vessel’s identifying Port, Letter and Number (PLN). Unlicensed fishermen will be given a unique reference number by Marine Scotland to use.
The announcement comes after months of discussions and consultation about so-called gear conflict with fishermen’s groups and other marine users.
In its response to the consultation, Marine Scotland said there was clear evidence that some fishermen were using inappropriate equipment to mark gear and, as a result, it plans to ‘outlaw the use of objects such as plastic milk cartons and netted footballs.’
It added that it accepts that some fishermen may wish to mark gear at variance to the guidelines as a result of local conditions.
The move has been welcomed by the Cruising Association (CA), which has long campaigned for improvements to the marking of static fishing gear.
The CA’s lobster pot campaign coordinator, Ian Wilson, said using proper buoys and floats will play a role in reducing entanglements and fouled props.
He said the CA was consulted on the Scottish proposals, and highlighted that buoy size was also significant for both visual identification at distance and sufficient buoyancy to maximise deflection if a passing boat made contact.
The CA is currently pressing for a consultative body to be set up following its successful petition demanding improvements to the marking of static fishing gear in the UK.
In its response to the petition, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has asked for more evidence on the scale of fishing gear entanglement affecting the boating community.
Entanglement can be reported via lobsterpots@ theCA.org.uk as well as to the RYA online reporting scheme.
Fishermen in Scotland will have to use appropriate buoys or floats to identify gear