Council dismayed with IOM decision

The Leader and Depute of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Elaine Murray and Rob Davidson have today made a statement on behalf of our Council in reference to the decision by the Isle of Man Government to introduce new reporting proposals which will require Dumfries and Galloway based scallop fishing vessels to report to the IOM daily:

We are absolutely appalled to hear, that despite our strong opposition, the Isle of Man Government have decided to continue with their decision which will require scallop boats fishing in their waters to report to Manx ports daily from today, 15th January 2018.

Due to the failure of the IOM government to use the agreed process there has been no evidence made available to consider either the impact of fishers from UK ports custom and practice and associated ‘grandfather rights’ or the state of the current and future fisheries. This makes the Economic Impact to the devolved governments and the UK treasury as a whole difficult to properly quantify. However, our local industry sees it, in its current state with consideration of the variation as a whole, unsustainable for many due to not taking cognisance of 30 years of custom and practice.

The Food and Drink Sector is a priority for this Council and the fishing and fish processing industries are an important part of that sector and therefore our local economy, making it a top priority for this Council. We predicted when this was first announced in December that this would have a devastating effect on our scallop industry, both from Kirkcudbright and Dumfries and Galloway in general and could affect the livelihoods of hundreds of people employed in the sector.

When we first heard of the Isle of Man Government’s proposals we acted quickly to what we perceive to be a serious threat to an important industry for our region, writing to the cabinet secretary, Fergus Ewing, demanding that the Scottish Government take action to regularise the situation and to secure the jobs that exist in Dumfries and Galloway. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts the IOM have chosen to proceed with its reporting proposal from today’s date.

The implications of this decision stretch further than just our local economy. The discriminatory impact on Scottish vessels, relative to the Isle of man based boats, which will have to make additional journeys across the Irish Sea in winter, poses serious health and safety concerns and we must consider the wellbeing of our fishing fleet.

We are angry that there has been no proper consultation process, as required under the Fisheries Management Agreement. We wrote to the Scottish Government the day the regulation was announced by the Manx Government, 22nd December, setting out our grievances and asked that they intervene. Unfortunately the Isle of Man have chosen not to listen to our concerns.

We do not intend to let this matter rest and will be writing to the UK Government as DEFRA has responsibility for the implementation of the Fisheries Management Agreement between the UK and Manx Governments. We absolutely recognise the seriousness of the situation and believe the Scottish Government has done the right thing in invoking the dispute resolution process in the Fisheries Management Agreement. It is essential that we see a fair outcome for the industry in our region.