Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency

Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency

The Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) is an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government. The SFPA is responsible for both deterring illegal fishing in Scottish waters, as well as monitoring the compliance of the fisheries industry in Scotland with the relevant Scottish and European Union laws on fisheries. The Agency has 18 Fishery Offices, a fleet of 4 Fishery Protection Vessels, and 2 aircraft for the purposes of monitoring and enforcement in the waters around Scotland. The letters "SF" appearing in the Agency's ensign relate to the words "Sea Fisheries" as the agency is part of the UK Sea Fisheries Inspectorate (SFI).


The British Parliament has legislated for the protection and control of fisheries in the waters around the United Kingdom since the early 19th century. In the early 1800’s the Commissioners of the British White Herring Fishery were appointed, who had the power to detail naval vessels to superintend the herring fisheries; officers of the fishery were appointed with particular emphasis on the certification of cured herring for export and for making the necessary brand on the barrel. Experience as a cooper - a maker of barrels - remained a qualification for Fishery Officers until as recently as 1939.

In 1882, the Fishery Board for Scotland was established for the purposes of protecting sea fisheries in the waters around Scotland and land-based inspection of landed catches. By 1909, the Board's fleet included 5 steam vessels; at the outbreak of World War II, the fleet had been increased to 8 vessels which included 2 small motor boats. The Board's responsibilities were transferred to the Secretary of State for Scotland in 1939.

In April 1991 the Secretary of State for Scotland established the fisheries protection and enforcement services as an executive agency as part of the Government’s Next Steps Initiative, which sought to devolve specific activities from central Government to free-standing organisations, headed by Chief Executives accountable to Ministers. Hence, the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency was established as an executive agency of the Scottish Office with the resources of 230 staff, 20 coastal offices, 6 protection vessels and 2 surveillance aircraft. Following devolution in Scotland, the agency transferred to the control of the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD). [ SFPA - Network Magazine Issue 34 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

In 2007, the Scottish National Party (SNP) changed the structure of the Scottish Executive (now known as the Scottish Government), and the SFPA became associated with the Director-General of the Environment.


From the SFPA's Operating Plan for 2008-09 [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] , the principal activities of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) are to:
* to pursue and implement an effective strategy for the monitoring of fisheries and meet the targets set for it.
* to deter illegal fishing by UK and foreign vessels.
* to detect breaches of fisheries regulations by monitoring and inspection at sea and in ports and report as appropriate to the prosecuting authorities.
* to provide intelligence on fishing activity in the sea areas around Scotland and information, advice and support for fisheries policy and management;.
* to deliver and manage its inspection and protection services efficiently and effectively

The SFPA has an operating budget of £24.16 million for the financial year 2008-2009. [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]


FPA Headquarters

The Headquarters of the SFPA is located in Pentland House, Edinburgh. It houses the supporting arms of the Agency including Finance, Corporate Affairs, Human Resources, Training, Pay, Procurement and Health & Safety as well as the Prosecution & Enforcement Policy branch and the Marine Monitoring Centre (previously known as the HQ Operations). [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] Pentland House was recently sold for £14.87 million to Camlin Investments Ltd. [ King Sturge - Prudential concludes sale of Pentland House, Edinburgh (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

Marine Monitoring Centre & UKFCC

The Marine Monitoring Centre is responsible for tasking SFPA assets, primarily FPVs and surveillance aircraft, to address the Agency’s key priorities, which are determined using risk-based analysis. The Marine Monitoring Centre also acts as part of the UK Fisheries Monitoring Centre [ SFPA - Satellite Monitoring (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] , maintaining and monitoring the VMS satellite tracking system of all fishing vessels in Scottish waters and Scottish fishing vessels globally. The MMC is manned between 0700-2200 Monday to Friday and 0800-1100 on weekends. [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

Since 1st June 2005, the UK Fisheries Call Centre (UKFCC), based within the MMC, has been the single point of contact for all notification or reporting requirements from fishing vessels in UK waters, working of behalf of the SFPA, the Marine Fisheries Agency of England and Wales (MFA), and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Northern Ireland (DARNDI). [ SFPA - UK Fisheries Call Centre (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] The UKFCC is manned 24 hours a day. [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

The MMC & UKFCC have approximately 13 staff and projected running costs of £707,000 for 2008-2009. [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

Coastal SFI

The Coastal Sea Fisheries Inspectorate (SFI) operate from 18 Fishery Offices around the coast of Scotland. These offices are staffed by warranted British Sea Fishery Officers (BSFOs), and supported by Fishery Assistants and Fish Samplers. These are overseen by two Area Managers based at Peterhead and Oban, and four Business Managers based in Peterhead, Lerwick, Ullapool and Mallaig. The Coastal SFI has approximately 107 staff and had projected running costs of £4,665,000 for 2008-2009. [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

The main tasks for the Coastal SFI is to ensure the integrity of the Quota Management System and the enforcement of regulations on effort limitation, stock recovery programmes, VMS and the Registration of Buyers and Sellers act. [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] This is accomplished by:
* Inspections of catches in ports on board vessels, in fish markets and on landing for direct sale.
* Weighing of whitefish catches as required by EU legislation, with catches sample weighed at the point of landing, on fish markets and at merchants’ premises.
* Enforcing the timeous submission of logsheets and landing declarations in compliance with the EU and UK legislation and in the submission of salesnotes and buyers notes, in compliance with the legislation on the registration of sellers and buyers of sea fish.
* Ensuring catches are accurately recorded against quota and that buyers and sellers are complying with the regulations.
* Carrying out post landing investigations in cases where there is reason to suspect that catches were not accurately declared at the time of landing and sale.
* Carrying out audit checks on registered buyers under protocols with the Marine Directorate.
* Enforcing pelagic fisheries regulations by means of tank-dipping prior to landing, or verifying the weights of catches as they are landed through the approved and certified weighing systems.

Marine SFI

The Marine Sea Fisheries Inspectorate (SFI) consists of a fleet of 4 Fishery Protection Vessels (FPVs) in service as of 2008. A fleet renewal programme to replace the aging "Sulisker" type began in 2003 with the delivery of the first "Minna" type, followed by the "Jura" type in 2005. It was intended to upgrade the fleet to 3 "Jura" type vessels and 2 "Minna" type vessels, however the renewal programme is under review by the Scottish National Party Government. [ BBC News - Fishery Protection Vessel Rethink (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] [ Scottish Parliament Written Answers - Review of SFPA Fleet (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

Scottish FPVs are not military ships and are not armed. They use the prefix FPV, and fly the SFPA's ensign. Scottish FPVs are responsible for the inspection of fishing vessels at sea in Scottish waters and Scottish vessels in the waters of other member states. The high profile of the fleet at sea acts as a deterent against illegal fishing and is pivotal to the information informing the Real Time Closure (RTC) scheme. [ Scottish Government - Real Time Closures (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] FPVs also contribute towards the UK's commitment to NEAFC [ North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission - Home Page (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] , with annual patrols in the NEAFC area west of Rockall.

Historically, additional Fishery Protection Vessels were provided by the Fishery Protection Squadron of the Royal Navy which was previously based at Rosyth. In 1994, the Agency determined that this assistance was no longer required and the Fishery Protection Squadron was moved to Portsmouth as part of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR). Since that time, all Fishery Protection operations in Scottish waters (with the exception of joint exercises [ SFPA - Joining Forces in Europe (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] ) have been conducted by SFPA vessels.

The Marine SFI has approximately 133 staff and had projected running costs of £9,421,000 for 2008-2009. [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

Jura Type

The "Jura" type are offshore patrol vessels with a displacement of 2,200 tonnes. These vessels can stay on effective patrol for up to 30 days although the normal patrol length remains at 21 days. The first vessel of the type, FPV "Jura", was constructed by Ferguson Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow, joining the fleet in March 2006.

In the tendering for the next two "Jura" type vessels to be built, the Scottish Executive awarded the contract to a Polish shipbuilder rather than Fergusons [ BBC News - Yard fails in ships contract bids (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] , sparking strong criticism from the Scottish National Party. FPV "Hirta", was constructed in Remontowa Shipyard, Poland, and launched on 17 August 2007. The vessel joined the fleet in May 2008.

Minna Type

The "Minna" type are inshore/offshore patrol vessels with a displacement of 781 tonnes and a maximum speed of 14 knots. Vessels of this type can also spend up to 21 days on patrol. Currently there is only one vessel of this type, FPV "Minna" [ Scottish Government Release - New Fisheries Protection Vessel (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] which was launched in 2003. In May 2006, the vessel replacement programme was delayed, when the SFPA was forced to suspend the tender process for a second "Minna" type vessel after it was found that the process was in breach of EU procurement rules. [ BBC News - Shipyard in new contract bid row (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

The current "Minna" is the third FPV to bear the name (named after a character in Sir Walter Scott's novel "The Pirate"). Previous vessels of this name served between 1901-1939 and 1939-1974. [ Scottish Government Release - New Fisheries Protection Vessel (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

ulisker Type

The older "Sulisker" type are offshore patrol vessels with a displacement of 1,365 tonnes and a maximum speed of 18 knots. They can spend up to 21 days on patrol. The only ship of this type currently in service is FPV "Norna" which was launched in 1987. The first of the type, FPV "Sulisker" was launched in 1980, decommissioned late 2005 and is currently undergoing conversion to a luxury yacht in Lowestoft. FPV "Vigilant", launched in 1982, was decommissioned in Spring 2008.

Historical Types

The last of the "Island" type, FPV "Westra" was launched in 1975 and decommissioned in 2003. The vessel was purchased by Sea Shepherd in 2005 and was renamed MY "Robert Hunter" in memory of one of the two founding members of Greenpeace. The vessel has since been renamed MY "Steve Irwin". The Island type were offshore patrol vessels with a displacement of 1,017 tonnes and a maximum speed of 16.5 knots. In contrast to the more modern vessel types, the Island type could only remain on patrol for 16-18 days.

Aerial Surveillance

The SFPA also have two surveillance aircraft, a Reims Cessna Caravan II F-406 (with a replacement currently under construction) and a Reims Vigilant F-406, both based at Inverness Airport. The aircraft are operated by Highland Airways under contract. The projected running costs for 2008-2009 are £1,824,000. [ SFPA - Operating Plan 2008-2009 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

The main tasks of the aerial surveillance aircraft are to:
* Validate the UK VMS system
* Monitor the activities of fishing vessels not equipped with VMS (less than 15m length)
* Patrol the increasing number of sea areas closed to fishing operations either to protect fish stocks or the habitats contained within an area.
* Monitor fishing activities in the international waters adjacent to UK fishery limits and under the control of NEAFC, particular to detect and deter IUU fishing.

Future of the SFPA

On 30 January 2008, the First Minister, Alex Salmond, announced that the SFPA would merge with parts of the Scottish Government and possibly the Fisheries Research Services to form a single Scottish marine management organisation. [ Scottish Parliament - Official Report 30 January 2008 (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] On 14 July 2008, the Scottish Government released a consultation on the Scottish Marine Bill which named the proposed marine management organisation as Marine Scotland. The consultation states: "We envisage that Marine Scotland... would absorb in large part the existing resources of the Scottish Government Marine Directorate, FRS and the SFPA, along with some other existing resources currently devoted to functions to be integrated under its responsibilities."

Two options are discussed in the consultation with regards to the delivery arrangements of Marine Scotland. One option is for a "virtual body" which would require the existing bodies involved in marine management to co-ordinate, integrate and streamline management and regulatory activity, systems and processes through statutory provisions. The second option requires Marine Scotland to be an integrated body with responsibility for policy, marine planning, science and regulation/licensing to the limits of devolved responsibilities.

The status of Marine Scotland is also discussed with three options available: to be either part of the Scottish Government, an Executive Agency or a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB). The deadline for responses to the consultation was 6 October 2008. [ Scottish Government Release - New future for Scotland's seas (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ] A list of the consultees is provided on the Scottish Government website. [ Scottish Government - New future for Scotland's seas. Annex D: List of Consultees (Retrieved 10 October 2008)] ]

ee Also

*Marine and Fisheries Agency of England and Wales

Notes & References

External links

* [ SFPA homepage]

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