SCOTLAND’S marine stocks are being “seriously overfished” in places and the undersea environment “destroyed” by trawling, it is claimed.

SNP activists will tomorrow ask their party to back new restrictions on fishing around the country’s coast.

This includes a call to Holyrood agency Marine Scotland to regulate activity within the 12-mile limit of our shores in order to protect biodiversity.

A motion led by the Kirkcaldy and Thurso and District branches asks members to agree that “some of our marine stocks are being seriously overfished and the marine environment destroyed by bottom dredging and trawling of the seabed”.

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It adds: “We as a country should regard our seas as a public asset to be regulated and managed fairly, balancing the needs of fishermen, leisure activities and most importantly environmental impact and habitat and fish/crustacean stocks.”

Environmentalists have long called for greater curbs on fishing activity within the 12-mile limit and the subject has been one of controversy for years, with opinion differing between different parts of the sector.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation last year rejected calls for a ban on trawlers within three miles of the shore, saying there’s no evidence that this would be of benefit.

However, the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation has said

the sustainable methods of its members were being hampered by the work of a “poorly regulated minority”.

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The motion to the SNP conference calls on Marine Scotland to “utilise existing powers to regulate and monitor fishing/potting activities” within existing boundaries.

Taking “berried” lobsters with eggs will “impact on the long-term viability of the population”, it says, adding that “to achieve an effective resolution to the problem, it will require meaningful dialogue with fishermen, conservationists and scientists together with government in order to create a viable and sustainable marine habitat and fishing industry”.

The move comes days after Sweden’s parliament announced nine measures to “save fish stocks in the Baltic sea”. This includes new limitations for trawling.

Other measures include work to encourage new recruitment in the sector and efforts to ensure that small-scale fishing and that which goes directly to food are not disproportionately affected by actions such as reductions in quotas.