Shetland fishermen have hit out at the introduction of a new electronic net measuring device, claiming it under-estimates the size of meshes.
The device, manufactured by Omega, was brought in at the beginning of September to replace the traditional hand-held, wedge-shaped block.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association chief executive Hansen Black said: “This is a serious problem that the Scottish Government needs to address urgently. There needs to be an examination of what is causing this mismatch in readings between the different types of measuring device.
“Net manufacturers have been supplying nets to an accepted standard, and then suddenly this standard has changed. Fishermen have been buying nets in good faith that they are of the legal size and at the very least should be given the opportunity to wear the netting out before having to replace it. This will not happen overnight, therefore a phased introduction of the new net gauge has to be taken in a timescale agreed with the industry.
“As well as putting many fishermen needlessly out of pocket at a very difficult time, the new gauge is going to leave a lot of trawl manufacturers with potentially worthless netting.”
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong added: “This is an extremely concerning situation. The nets are the same as before, the only thing that has changed is the means of measuring them. With all the current problems facing the industry, there could not be a more inappropriate and unhelpful time than this to have further needless expense foisted upon the industry. It is vital that Marine Scotland Compliance and the Scottish Government sits down with the industry to find a reasonable solution to this totally unwelcome diversion.”