- 9 Jun 2020
In August 2018 the Scottish Government published best practice guidance for marking fishing creels, setting out safe and effective marking practices.
The guidance is applicable to creels deployed within 12 nautical miles of Scottish baselines and aims to reduce accidental gear conflict and entanglement of propeller shafts, as creels which meet the standards set out will be more visible.
Guidance rather than legislation recognises and responds to concerns of some fishermen who operate in a variety of conditions, allowing those fishermen to responsibly apply their judgment to safely mark creels.
Responding to fishermen's concerns, the Scottish Government also intends to introduce legislation in 2020 to improve creel marking by banning the use of inappropriate items such as milk cartons, netted footballs or similar items. Poorly marked creels can result in safety issues and contribute to gear conflict. Licensed fishermen will be required to mark creels so that the owner can easily be identified.
A consultation on proposals for marking requirements for static gear deployed within 12 nautical miles of Scottish baselines took place from November 2016 to February 2017, giving all fishermen the opportunity to consider and comment on them.
In December 2015, the Cabinet Secretary announced recommendations on dealing with gear conflict. These included looking at good practice and possible legislative changes to the marking of creels inside 12 nautical miles.
Marine Scotland organised an online dialogue, and held discussions with three industry working groups formed specifically to consider options on this topic. Although the majority of organisations, associations and individuals who took part in the working groups supported the proposals, some parties did express concerns about restricting how creels could be marked.
These proposals were therefore consulted on from November 2016 to February 2017, in order to give all fishermen the opportunity to consider and comment on them.
Whilst overall there was support for the proposals as set out in that consultation, it was clear that in some circumstances the proposals, if adhered to, might cause loss of creels in adverse weather or during strong tides.
Clearly it would be unreasonable to legislate and place fishermen in a position of having to choose between complying with legislation and risk losing creels, and breaching regulations to avoid loss.
Marine Scotland therefore published guidelines which set out best practice for marking creels. The guidelines strike a balance to ensure creels are visible and reduce the risk of accidental gear conflict. However, a number of fishermen may wish to mark creels at variance to the guidelines due to local conditions, either at certain times of the year or in particular geographic positions.
It is clear that some fishermen are marking creels using inappropriate equipment that result in poor visibility and/or poorly secured marking equipment. Marine Scotland has therefore introduced the Marking of Creels (Scotland) Order in June 2020 which bans the use of equipment not manufactured for the purpose of marking fishing creels. This outlaws the use of objects such as plastic milk cartons and netted footballs.
The Marking of Creels (Scotland) Order also requires licensed fishermen to mark their creels with the PLN of the deploying registered fishing vessel. These measures came into force on 20th June 2020 which allowed industry time to take appropriate measures.