Legal challenge over scallop-dredging in Scottish waters gets under way

Environmental campaigners Open Seas say the practice is 'destroying' the seabed.

Legal challenge over scallop-dredging in Scottish waters gets under way at Court of Session in Edinburgh Getty Images

A campaign group’s legal challenge to the Scottish Government over fishing techniques which it says are destroying the seabed has got under way at Scotland’s highest civil court.

Open Seas, which works to protect and improve the marine environment, claims the Government’s licensing of scallop-dredging in Scottish waters is causing significant damage to vulnerable habitats.

It has brought a petition for a judicial review to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, arguing that decisions to license the practice of bottom-trawling to gather up catches are being made unlawfully as they do not take into account existing marine policy.

Speaking outside the court during a short break in the proceedings on Monday, Open Seas director Phil Taylor said: “It’s vitally important we use the seas for the greatest public benefit.

“What we are arguing here is that harmful forms of fishing needs to be licensed in a way that takes into account the marine environment.”

Counting the number of individuals representing the Scottish Government at the hearing, Mr Taylor said: “It’s regrettable we have ended up in court against the Scottish Government who are represented by 14 individuals compared to our six.”

Until 1984, bottom-trawling was banned in all waters within three miles of shoreline, but the practice is now legal in this area, known as the inshore zone.

Open Seas is campaigning for an updated version of the inshore limit to be introduced.