The decision by the High Court in London to uphold the UK Fisheries Minister’s move to redistribute some fishing quota away from the major operators in favour of smaller-scale fishermen is a welcome step.
While the quantities of fish involved are minor, we hope that it signifies a shift towards recognising the importance of the small-boat inshore fleet.
The decision also confirms that the fish and fisheries are a public resource and asset that should be managed for the benefit of the many, rather than a select few. The Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust (Sift) looks forward to Marine Scotland embracing this principle in the way that it manages Scotland’s inshore waters. Continuing to favour the practices of the more destructive elements of the Scottish fleet is a discredited option.
Much of Scotland’s inshore fleet of smaller boats exclusively employs local residents and thus has a great incentive not to over-exploit the resource.
The income they generate is retained locally to the benefit of fragile rural (and often remote) communities. These fisheries, particularly creeling and diving, can be entirely compatible with other inshore activities and income streams such as marine tourism. Scotland needs and deserves a truly sustainable inshore fishing policy, and that can only be based around a diversified fleet of small boats from the communities that line our coast.