New deal resolves scallop fishing row
Manx Government revises policy
Scallop fishermen and processors in Kirkcudbright have won their fight to have a controversial fishing restriction lifted.
Their campaign forced the Manx government to bring in new rules on Monday.
Now Galloway boats can continue to fish as before – as long as they abide by strict catch limits.
The revised policy means any skippers caught over-fishing king scallops could have their licences to work in Manx waters cancelled.
It replaces a punitive January 15 regulation forcing vessels to report daily to a Manx port for catch inspections.
It was imposed to combat alleged under-reporting of catches.
Kirk cud bright fishing leaders branded the ruling “discriminatory” because it exempted Manx skippers while severely cutting the Scottish boats’ fishing time.
They warned the entire local scallop industry on land and sea was at risk, along with hundreds of fishing and processing jobs.
Now they are breathing a huge sigh of relief after the Manx change of heart.
West Coast Sea Products boss John King told the News: “This gives us relief and peace of mind in Kirkcudbright. It was really important that this was overturned. Now we can get back to our normal working practices.
“They may be Manx seas and Manx scallops but we will treat them as part of our traditional fishing grounds, just as we have always done.
“It’s the local fishery for southwest Scotland and Scottish fishermen have the same rights to fish Manx waters, just as the Manx have to fish in Scottish and UK waters.”
He added: “We are grateful to Marine Scotland and Scottish Fisheries Minister Fergus Ewing for their efforts and support, and for putting a stop to this ridiculous measure.
“We have a workable solution and it’s a level playing field now.”
Local politicians, Scottish ministers and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed the campaign to scrap the “report to port” regulation.
Dumfries and Galloway Council deputy leader Rob Davidson said: “The way the Isle of Man introduced the original scheme was very unfortunate. However, the fact they have changed their minds is very welcome.
“It’s a good outcome but we will be keeping a close eye on how this is going to be implemented.”
Dee and Glenkens councillor Dougie Campbell said: “Thanks to everyone for their support during this campaign which has saved many local jobs. Most of all though a great deal of praise must go to Steven Girgan, the skipper of Susan Bird who represented his fellow fishermen and made all this happen.”
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “We welcome these new arrangements which will make it possible for our fishermen to continue to fish sustainably in Manx waters.”
Geoffrey Boot, Manx Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: “We hope owners and skippers will take their obligation to accurately record their catch more seriously if they know cheating won’t be tolerated and they could lose access to Manx waters.”
Scottish Labour’s rural economy spokesman Colin Smyth added: “The council highlighted local concerns to the the Isle of Man Government and if the Scottish Government had also acted quickly then perhaps these two weeks of uncertainty would not have happened.”
Pleased MSP Fergus Ewing
Welcome news Councillor Dougie Campbel with fisherman Steven Girgan at Kirkcudbright harbour yesterday