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Friday, May 14, 1999 Published at 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK


Scots anger as fishing limit is redrawn

A storm has erupted over English-Scottish fishing limits

Scotland's fishing leaders have accused the government of failing to consult them over a decision to extend English fisheries limit into traditional Scottish waters.

They have rejected Scottish Office assertions that normal parliamentary procedures were followed in moving the North Sea dividing line, which extended eastwards from Berwick, 60 miles north to a new point in line with Carnoustie.

BBC Scotland's Colin Wight reports:
Scotland's North Sea fishermen say they have worked for years on the understanding that the line dividing their interests from their counterparts in England extended from Berwick.

But with the advent of devolution, the Scottish Office had to make a clear stipulation of the limit of Scotland's fisheries jurisdiction.

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation is demanding urgent talks with Scottish First Minister-elect Donald Dewar and Scotland's other political leaders.

[ image: The SNP has demanded an inquiry into fishing limit changes]
The SNP has demanded an inquiry into fishing limit changes
Chief executive Hamish Morrison said: "It is a monstrous state of affairs and quite extraordinary that a matter of such importance could suddenly have emerged without any apparent public discussion and certainly no consultation with the industry.

The Scottish Office insists the order creating the new boundary, which was drawn up days before the opening of the new Scottish Parliament, followed normal parliamentary protocol and was designed to help implement the devolution settlement for Scotland.

It said the order deals only with the regulation of fisheries, not where boats can fish.

But the Scottish National Party has demanded an inquiry, asserting that the arrangement makes a mockery of the new political arrangement.

North East Euro MP, Iain Hudghton said: "It makes a nonsense of devolution to think that just days into the life of our Scottish parliament we're suddenly told that Westminster has redrawn the boundary, effectively, between Scotland and England and moved it north to Carnoustie.

"Without consultation either with the industry or especially without waiting for consultation with the parliament itself."

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