Cockling laws give courts greater rights to prosecute

South of Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish has welcomed the passage of proposals to changes to the law in relation to illegal cockle fishing.

The proposals were part of the Scottish Government’s Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill which was passed by MSPs last Wednesday.

Following concerns raised by MSPs and other stakeholders during consideration of the bill, the Scottish government brought amendments that widen the scope to give courts the power to infer that an accused person has illegally fished for, or is about to illegally fish for cockles from the circumstantial evidence available.

At present the law requires enforcement officers to gather evidence of people in the act of fishing.

Speaking following the debate, Claudia Beamish, who serves as Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Environment and sits on the Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Environment Committee, said: “I am pleased that the Scottish government has listened to the concerns of communities . “The difficulty of catching suspects in the act of illegal fishing has seriously hampered efforts to crack down on this issue to date but these provisions should help deliver more effective enforcement.

“This is a step forward and will hopefully pave the way for a legal and sustainable cockle fishery on the Solway that can bring jobs to the region.”