Fishermen who took the Scottish Government to court for allegedly failing to protect the environment have won a judicial review.
Creel fishermen on Skye say the lifting of a ban on trawlers within three miles of the coastline has destroyed habitats and claimed the government breached its own environmental policy programme by not tackling the issue.
They wanted a ban on trawling close to the shore.
On Monday, the Court of Session ruled the proposal was turned down by ministers solely because of the strength of opposition, and not on criteria such as the impact on quotas or on national obligations.
Skye-based creel fisherman Bally Philp said: “We want our local fisheries to be better managed.
“We consider it is over-subscribed. And we need to find ways to regulate it better so that it’s sustainable in the longer term.
“And the second principle reason is that if we can make our fisheries sustainable we can roll out that model around the coast, because we’re concerned about the sustainability of all inshore fishing at the moment.”
In 1985, a ban on trawling within three miles of the west coast, which had been in place for almost a century, was lifted, largely because over-fishing had drained stocks off-shore.
Creel fishermen say the decision has ultimately destroyed coastline habitats.
The Scottish Government and its agency, Marine Scotland, repeatedly rejected calls for a pilot scheme run by west coast fishing communities to closely monitor the issues.
The Scottish Government said it’s considering the court’s decision “very carefully”.
A spokesman said: “This case focused only on the assessment of a proposal for the Inner Sound of Skye by some creel fishermen, and is not related to wider inshore fisheries management matters.
“A lot has happened since the case was lodged in May 2020.
“The Scottish Government has been focused on supporting the fishing industry through the impacts of Covid-19 and EU exit.
“Last month we also published the Future Fisheries Management Strategy setting out policy initiatives for the next ten years including for inshore fisheries.
“We would encourage the SCFF (Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation) to fully engage with this work through our inshore fisheries groups.”
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