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John Hernes of the Scallop Fisherman's Association
"There is no doubt some boats have been forced into riskier areas"
 real 28k

Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 08:43 GMT
Scallop ban claim in fishing tragedy

lifeboat The lifeboats came back without survivors


The Scottish Executive has been accused of contributing to the Solway Harvester tragedy because of its ban on scallop fishing in west coast waters.

The Clyde Fisherman's Association believes the vessel was forced further from its home port in order to trawl fish it could sell legally.

The association reckons that because of a lack of compensation over the ban on scallop fishing, vessels are now under economic pressure to go into new areas to find a living.


Scallop A ban on scallop fishing was imposed during the summer
But the executive has refuted the claim saying the sunken boat - which took with it a seven-man crew - was not under pressure because of the scallop ban.

It said the ban around the Isle of Man had been lifted last year.

And it pointed out that new licences were only being issued to boats with a history of fishing in those waters - and one of those had been held by the Solway Harvester.

The executive imposed the ban on scallop fishing across 8,000 miles of west coast waters last summer because of toxic algae blooms.

Government scientists feared that if toxins entered the food chain they could cause sickness, headaches, loss of memory or even death.


Map The accident happened a few miles from the Isle of Man
Patrick Stewart of the Clyde Fishermen's Association said they asked for compensation for fishermen but this was rejected by the fisheries minister.

Mr Stewart said that move had resulted in boats being forced further afield.

He added that, although the weather may have been responsible for the tragedy, the government had also contributed by refusing compensation.

The Kirkcudbright-registered scallop dredger had set out on Sunday on a three-day fishing trip.

It let off a distress beacon off the Isle of Man coast on Tuesday evening when difficulties beset it in worsening weather conditions.

Coastguard teams began searching the area but only wreckage was found and two unused life rafts.

The crew, skippered by Craig Mills, all came from the Isle of Whithorn.

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See also:
11 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Trawler wreckage located
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Fishing community faces up to loss
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Fishing safety back in the spotlight
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Solway Harvester tragedy in pictures
11 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Search under way for missing vessel

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