In fact, Wester Ross, a place called Scotland’s answer to the Great Barrier Reef and a powerhouse of biodiversity, an algae forest sheltering millions and millions of baby fish and protects them from predators is still under threat due to illegal industrial fishing.
Alex Thomson, chief Correspondent of Channel4 reports from Wester Ross, on the immense threat of scallop dreading, including illegally dredging inside protected areas up and down the west coast of Scotland, where large boats from distant ports are dragging heavy metal cages on the sea floor and are scooping up everything in their path.
Solid sea beds, with just sand and stone, are caused by nothing else other than scallop dreading, as Alasdair Hughson, Chairman of the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation highlights. The damage can be detrimental, and scallops can be 300 to 400 years old when they are struck, smashed and left by a dredger.
According to Andy Holbrow, a scallop diver, the seabed appears to be clean, as it has been wiped and much is now gone. Nevertheless, there are small, physical lines that can be visible on the seabed, similar to those of a vegetable plot. What is devastating, according to Mr. Holbrow, is coming across broken and smashed creatures, such as crabs and starfish.
Furthermore, locals claim that they must dive for evidence, in order to watch over on protected areas because Marine Scotland cannot protect the more than 10,250 miles of Scottish coastline. On their part, Marine Scotland rejects that they cannot cope, yet, acknowledge that having thousands of miles of west coast to protect with just 3 main vessels is a challenging task.
Moreover, Director of Marine Scotland, Graham Black, says that “we are increasing electronic monitoring over the next year-18 months. All vessels are 20 meters from land, we’ll have to have electronic monitoring on them, which will enable us to tell not only where they are, but also what they are doing; and you can’t switch it off.” Such an action can give reliable evidence on the situation, without necessarily having a visual sighting, according to the Director.
Still, scallop divers remain skeptical towards the damage incurred on the fragile marine environment, and together with more than 40 campaigning groups ask for a 3-mile limit around Scotland in which strollers and scallop dredges are banned. However, on the other side, scallop dredges support that this demand is the recipe for massive job loss.
Recently, the third report in the Caught Red-Handed paper series analyzed expert opinions about threats to maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean. The survey included the responses of 110 maritime security professionals; 80% of them agreed that illegal fishing is a significant security threat to their countries and further impact the economy sector, as well as the local way of leaving.
In particular, participants listed illegal fishing as the most significant maritime security threat across all ten countries and further emphasized on the harmful impacts of illegal fishing allowing vessels to proliferate throughout the region and even enable other maritime crimes.
Last year,The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) published the 'ten principles for global transparency in the fishing industry', ahead of the Our Ocean conference. These principles which aim to tackle illegal fishing and protect human rights in the industry, are simple, low-cost measures, which include publishing licence lists and giving vessels unique numbers.