Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Monday) raised concerns with Police Scotland about the risk of illegal fishing post Brexit.
During a meeting of the Justice Sub Committee on Policing, Mr McArthur highlighted that illegal fishing is one of the key threats identified post-Brexit and sought clarity from Deputy Chief Constable, Will Kerr on Police Scotland’s role in preventing it from happening.
In response, the Deputy Chief Constable acknowledged the risk and explained that it was probably ‘unrealistic and impractical’ for Police Scotland to be considering onboarding of fishing vessels, particularly in the winter months. He did highlight, however, that they are looking at contingency planning and protocols to gather evidence, including by increasing police capacity in ports, to prevent on-shore incidents.
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:
“There is undoubtedly widespread concern within the fishing sector about the heightened risk of illegal fishing in Scottish waters post Brexit and the damage this could do to the industry if these incidents occur.
“Any illegal activity not only impacts on the livelihoods of fishermen but could also result in confrontations that put the safety of crews at risk. For this reason, our fishing sector needs confidence that arrangements are being made by Police Scotland, SFPA and others to minimise the risks and respond in a timely fashion to incidents should they occur.
“I was therefore pleased to hear the Deputy Chief Constable provide assurances that contingency planning is underway and that additional capacity has been made available to police our ports. Hopefully this proactive approach will help reduce the risk and address some of the concerns felt by Scotland’s fishing sector.
“DCC Kerr was also right to highlight the importance of not inflaming the situation by use of more extreme language. We have seen in the past how quickly such incidents can escalate. That is not in anyone’s interests at a time when emotions are already running high.”