Date lodged: 6 December 2018
To ask the Scottish Government (a) how and (b) when Marine Scotland became aware of recent illegal scallop dredging in the protected Firth of Lorn, and for what reason its Marine Protection Vessels did not take action to halt the dredging.
Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 13 December 2018
In terms of alleged illegal activity taking place on the night of the 18th or early morning of the 19th November 2018 Marine Scotland received a report, initially by telephone call, of alleged illegal scallop dredging activity taking place that night. At the moment it remains an allegation and yet to be proven.
Marine Protection Vessel (MPV) Minna was in Glasgow for a crew change. Of our other two MPVs, one was tasked elsewhere on the north east of Scotland, and the other was in Hull for refit. Marine Scotland also has two surveillance aircraft and also makes regular use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, which adds considerably to our surveillance capacity. However, much of the alleged illegal activity occurs during the night which curtails aerial activity.
All reports from our own sources and members of the public are immediately assessed to see if immediate action is possible. If resources (aircraft or vessel) are available they are re-tasked to gather evidence and, if possible, detain any suspect boats. Whether or not immediate action is possible, all reports and intelligence received is fed into the Marine Scotland Compliance’s Intelligence Database (MSID). All of this information is graded and assessed at a regular risk assessment and tasking session where priorities and tasks for coastal officers, ships and aircraft are decided. Local officers also follow-up intelligence reports from their area at a local level so even if no other action is possible some form of action is undertaken.