Following a consultation with all those involved in the industry, the Scottish Government will introduce new licensing arrangements by creating a specific additional authority, with tougher and more enforceable conditions to minimise the risk of illegal electro-fishing. This initiative will require anyone involved in the razor fishery to make a specific application for an authorisation allowing them to prosecute the fishery through legal and sustainable means.
As part of the application process vessels will be inspected by Marine Scotland Fishery Officers to ensure that equipment capable of electro fishing is not installed and checks will be made by HSE (Health and Safety Executive) to ensure that all necessary diving and safety authorisations are in place prior to a razor fish licence being issued.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead commented: “Razor fishing is an important part of the fishing industry with landings worth £3.1 million in 2013".
“The Scottish Government cannot support the illegal practice of electro-fishing for razor clams and condemns those who choose to break the law in this respect. We need a strong evidence base before we can consider supporting any relaxation of regulation on electro fishing and Marine Scotland Science is currently carrying out initial trials to gauge wider environmental impacts.
“The introduction of these new licensing arrangements demonstrates our continued commitment to working with everyone involved in the industry to tackle illegal activity including electrofishing within this fishery.
“A fit for purpose licensing structure is key to sustainably developing and protecting legitimate fisheries for the long term benefit of local coastal communities whilst combatting illegal activities of criminal gangs such as electrofishing.”
Scottish Government officials will shortly communicate detailed arrangements to industry allowing them to make applications for the new licence.