Protecting Scotland’s seas
Marine Scotland is the directorate of the Scottish Government responsible for the management of Scotland’s seas. It has operational responsibility for monitoring and ensuring compliance with marine regulations within the British Fishery Limits, where Scotland has devolved powers.
This includes work to deter and detect illegal fisheries activities, illegal discarding of catch, protection of territorial waters and vulnerable marine habitats, up to 200 nautical miles offshore of Scotland.
Scotland’s waters cover 62% of the UK’s domestic exclusive economic zone with Marine Scotland operating three marine protection vessels, two aircraft and a network of fishery offices to ensure effective monitoring and enforcement.
The Marine Protection Vessels Jura, Minna and Hirta, and two Reims Cessna Caravan II F-406 aircraft (Watchdog Alpha and Watchdog Bravo), are tasked and deployed according to risk assessed operational requirements. During their patrols they gather information and monitor activity, as well as routinely board and inspect the catches and fishing gear of the fishing fleet at sea to ensure compliance with licence conditions and regulatory provisions. Any non-compliance is reported as appropriate to the prosecuting authorities.
Marine Scotland Compliance monitors the activity of Scottish fishing vessels in any waters and monitors all non-Scottish fishing vessels in Scotland’s waters, in near real-time, for regulatory compliance purposes.
The Fisheries Agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK Government following EU Exit means that EU vessels require a licence to fish in Scottish waters.
Following the end of the transition period and entering into the Fisheries Agreement with the EU, the UK must conduct its fisheries management and relations, as regards matters provided for in that Agreement, with the EU rather than directly with individual member states. This means that if EU vessels wish to fish in our territorial waters it would be for the EU as the coastal state to make that request during forthcoming annual negotiations on behalf of all its member states.
Marine Scotland is monitoring any breaches of licence conditions and is engaging constructively with EU partners to ensure the sustainable management of fish stocks is at the heart of this partnership working.
As part of planning for the end of the EU Exit transition period, Marine Scotland deployed two additional inshore patrol craft, increased aerial capabilities and advanced detection and imaging assets.