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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Ross Hunter

Investigation launched after endangered fish 'illegally caught and dumped'

AN investigation had been launched after allegations that an endangered species of fish was illegally caught and discarded off Argyll.

Marine conservation group Sea Kintyre released underwater footage showing three dead flapper skate discarded among “hundreds” of other fish near the Isle of Gigha.

Since 2009, it has been illegal to land flapper skates in Scotland and they must be returned to the water unharmed as quickly as possible.

Posting the footage on Instagram last week, Sea Kintyre said: “Clearly these three skate, along with hundreds of other fish including species such as thornyback rays, spotted rays, and dogfish were not released immediately.”

The Scottish Government, which regulates fishing through Marine Scotland, confirmed it is aware of the allegation.

A spokesman said: “An active investigation is under way. It would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Peter Hume, of Sea Kintyre, said he had received a tip-off about the discarded fish.

“I hopped on the ferry to Gigha, to see if the reports were true. Sadly, they were – all around the pier there were mountains of discarded skate and langoustines,” he said.

“This wasteful fishery is undermining other fishing opportunities for the local community and harming the life in our seas.”

Campaign group Open Seas said monitoring of bottom-trawling fishing vessels is currently inadequate, saying inshore vessels should have mandatory tracking.

Head of campaigns Nick Underdown said: “The environmental impact of bottom trawling is usually hidden from public view, but this footage shows the grim reality of bottom trawling for scampi.

“Bottom trawling is a largely indiscriminate method of fishing, but most people have no idea that their scampi and chips are caught using this method and at such an environmental cost.”

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