Dunbar Councillor urges residents to report shellfish poachers
DONNA Collins, a Conservative Councillor for Dunbar and East Linton, has called on residents and businesses from across East Lothian to report unlicenced fishermen who have been seen stealing from creels and selling stolen shellfish caught around the coast between North Berwick to Dunbar.
Dunbar Harbour is home to 29 fishing vessels ranging from 6 to 15 metres long, however in recent years it has experienced thefts from crab and lobster creels, and thefts of the creel equipment itself, seriously impacting the income of local fishermen.
This has been made worse by the poaching of undersized crabs and lobsters as well as egg laiden Queens by unlicensed fishermen. Local fishermen are usually mindful to notch the tails of Queens and release back to the sea to ensure stocks for the future.
Cllr Collins arranged, with the help of local fishermen, a meeting with Marine Scotland, Police Scotland and local fishermen. During the meeting, the Shellfish (Restrictions on Taking by Unlicensed Fishing Boats) (Scotland) Order 2017 was discussed which sets out that unlicensed hobby fishing vessels have a daily catch limit of 1 lobster and 5 crabs, with those bringing ashore in excess of the limit being subject to prosecution. They must also only catch them for personal use and are not allowed to sell to the general public or food establishments.
Police Scotland confirmed they will investigate reported thefts of creels and shellfish in the area and have asked fishermen and the general public to be vigilant of activity they suspect might be suspicious.
Marine Scotland have confirmed that due to reports of increased illegal activity they have increased fishery patrols in the North Berwick to Cove coastal area.
Cllr Donna Collins welcomed the progress made, commenting: “Having witnessed poaching and the damage it has caused to the livelihoods of local fishermen first-hand, I am pleased that progress has been made with Police Scotland and Marine Scotland to crackdown on poaching and theft of Shellfish in East Lothian.
“Many people in Dunbar and the surrounding community rely on fishing as their primary source of income, and it is a key part of the town’s economy.
“I would urge any resident or business who buy lobster or crab from a local vendor to only by from legitimate sources.”
Craig Hoy, a Conservative MSP for South Scotland, added: “Following my recent visits to Dunbar and North Berwick harbours, I have been left in no doubt how important fishing is to residents and businesses across East Lothian.
“It is imperative to report suspected unlicenced fishermen and stolen fishing equipment to help safeguard jobs and shellfish stocks for years to come.”