Marine and fisheries compliance: reports of illegal fishing in marine protected areas

Number of reports of alleged illegal fishing in an marine protected area (MPA) from Marine Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

Marine and fisheries compliance: reports of illegal fishing in marine protected areas

These tables show the number of reports received from the public by MPA and gear type where known (this does not record the number of incursions, not all reports are confirmed incursions, see accompanying notes)

Reports are received from a range of sources and may range from very accurate to completely inaccurate. They do not prove wrongdoing or suggest guilt and it is misleading to present them as such.

Reports may contain errors such as -

  • misidentification of vessels
  • misidentification of activity
  • inaccurate details as to exact location of the activity being witnessed, and
  • and a range of other issues

Other points to note -

  • the presence of a vessel in an MPA does not mean a law has been broken as vessels may transit through areas legally
  • different MPAs carry different restrictions so what is illegal in one, may not be in another
  • reports often do not confirm exactly where a vessel is in relation to any restrictions and are simply a report of what someone thinks they have seen
  • reports are seldom in real time but received after an event so the prospect of immediate action is reduced
  • reports received are taken at face value and accuracy cannot be verified until followed up at a later stage
  • reports are issued to officers to investigate to the extent that the evidence allows
  • all the reports received inform our tasking of marine and air assets and these provide a mechanism to gather further intelligence and enforcement action on the basis of that intelligence
  • a single report might relate to multiple vessels, and multiple reports may all relate to the same event or vessel
  • there is seldom a clear “line of sight” between reports received, and enforcement actions that might be taken
  • reports help build up a picture of what might be happening and our own assets can then investigate further
  • generally speaking, the reports are not kept any longer than three years



Phone: 0131 271 9700

Fax: 0131 244 6471

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