Vessel detained near Rockall was allegedly involved in another confrontation off Scotland

Vessel detained near Rockall was allegedly involved in another confrontation off Scotland
Crew of the LE William Butler Yeats boarding the Spanish vessel detailed last week off Rockall (credit Naval Service)

A German-registered Spanish fishing vessel detained last week by the Naval Service near Rockall had been at the centre of an alleged confrontation off the Scottish coast last month.

The 29-metre Pesorsa Dos was detained by Irish navy patrol ship LÉ William Butler Yeats some 250 miles off Malin Head, Co Donegal for “alleged infringements of EU fishing regulations in Irish waters”.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has highlighted the Irish detention of the Spanish vessel after the British authorities said they could not take any action over the incident off Scotland.

However, defence force sources have said the Irish detention was for a separate alleged infringement.

Video footage of the gill-netter, from the Spanish port of La Coruna, filmed on June 11, shows an interaction it had with a Scottish fishing vessel, Alison Kay, some 30 miles west of the Shetland Islands.

The British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) was urged to investigate the incident, which Scottish skippers claimed to be the latest in a series of such confrontations over fishing grounds.

However, the MCA said it had no jurisdiction to investigate it as it was outside the 12-mile jurisdictional limit in which it could take action against foreign-flagged vessels.

It said its maritime investigations team has written to the German maritime administration “to raise its concerns”, as it was the responsibility of the flag state.

The German federal police department for maritime security has been reported as stating there is “no suspicion of an offence under German law”.

It is understood the vessel was gillnetting near Rockall and had ten tonnes of monkfish on board when it was boarded and detained by the LÉ William Butler Yeats.

The vessel was escorted to Killybegs, Co Donegal and handed over to the Garda and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA).

Mr Carmichael said the fact that Irish authorities were able to detain the Pesorsa Dos entirely undermines the argument of the UK and German authorities that there was nothing to be done about what he alleged to be its "dangerous activities".

“It is yet another reminder that local fishermen should not have to wait until next year for us to have proper enforcement of basic norms of safety at sea. We can and should be getting this sorted now,” he said.

He told the MCA in a letter that the actions of Spanish fishermen had “caused a great deal of anger and frustration for trawlermen in my constituency and across the north of Scotland in recent years”, due to both “aggressive acts such as those outlined, and the wider use of gill-nets which can cover large areas and thus prevent other fishermen from working in those areas”.

The SFPA said that a 24-hour detention order for the vessel was granted on July 21st at Carrick-on-Shannon district court in Co Leitrim. It said it could not comment further as the case was before the courts.

It was the Naval Service’s seventh detention at sea this year.

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