FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has called on the UK Government to pay for the raising of the Nancy Glen fishing boat which sank in Loch Fyne, with the bodies of missing fishermen Duncan MacDougall and Przemek Krawczyk thought to be on board.

The Clyde Fishermen’s Association and the men’s families have started fundraising campaigns to salvage the boat so that the two men can be buried ashore, with almost £150,000 raised in just a few days.

In 1987, Salmond fronted the campaign which raised £600,000 to lift the wreck of the Peterhead-based Sapphire trawler which had the bodies of four crewmen on board.

He told The National: “Twenty years ago the families in Peterhead went through all of this and eventually had to raise the boat themselves.

“There are a number of precedents for boats to be raised when they are in shallow or inland waters and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch should step forward and say it will raise the Nancy Glen.

“It is unacceptable in terms of humanity that fishermen should be left aboard sunken vessels within eyesight of the shore. It is totally unacceptable in terms of common humanity and it should be a public responsibility for the men to be recovered and given a proper burial.”

The decision on whether to raise or not raise the Nancy Glen, as Salmond pointed out, lies in the first instance with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) which has confirmed to The National that none has yet been made.

Even though fisheries are a devolved matter, maritime accidents are reserved to Westminster and the minister responsible is Nusrat Ghani MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transport.

Salmond was in contact yesterday with local MSP Mike Russell and local MP Brendan O’Hara to offer his support and assistance, citing his experience as local MP at the time of the Sapphire operation.

The UK Government chose not to raise the Sapphire, with the then junior transport minister, Labour’s Glenda Jackson, infamously refusing to authorise the recovery of the boat, which had the bodies of Victor Podlesny, 45, Bruce Cameron, 32, Robert Stephen, 25, and Adam Stephen, 29, on board.

Salmond took the families to Westminster to plead the case but Jackson refused to take action and the campaign began to raise the money to carry out a recovery operation that was successful at a cost of £600,000.

In an eerie echo of that tragedy, the sole survivor of the Nancy Glen, 34-year-old John Miller, was able to confirm that his colleagues had been inside the boat when it capsized.

The only survivor of the Sapphire, skipper Victor Robertson, was able to do the same back in 1987.

The 40ft-long Nancy Glen capsized and sank in 330ft of water in Loch Fyne close to its home port of Tarbert last Thursday evening.

Despite the efforts of several crews, the boat could not be kept afloat and now rests on the seabed.

The campaign to raise the Nancy Glen started at the weekend and has raised more than £140,000 of the £200,000 target.

Clyde Fishermen’s Association chairman Kenny MacNab has stated: “All our effort will go into retrieving our fellow fishermen.”

The Association’s fundraising web page states: “The families wish to retrieve their loved ones as soon as possible, which will take great resource. In addition the fishermen have left wives and young children behind.

“The Clyde Fishermen want to help do all they can to assist these families at this time and in the future. We ask for support in this task. Please give generously so that these families may lay their men to rest and their children are supported through the tough times ahead.”

Salmond and other politicians in fishing communities around the UK feel that raising such sunken vessels to recover bodies should be funded by the UK Government.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with the families of the missing crewmen at this difficult time. It would inappropriate to comment further at this stage while the MAIB carries out its investigation.”