At long last, after many months of SSACN, angling clubs, individual anglers and other concerned bodies complaining about illegal razor clam gathering, a multi-agency operation run from Oban, involving Police Scotland, Marine Scotland, Argyll and Bute Council public protection services and the Health and Safety Executive has kicked into action to clamp down on it off the coast of Argyll.
It is estimated that illegally active fishing boats are taking between 500-600kg of razor clams a day, which are shipped away within 24 hours, having somehow obtained legal paperwork along the way, from Glasgow airport to overseas markets.
DCI Calum Young of Police Scotland’s L Division said: ‘They have a generator on the boat and deploy electrodes and probes on to the seabed and run them along the seabed, 10-15 metres deep.
‘The electricity stuns the razor clams and divers walk behind the boat scooping the clams up.
‘Many of the divers are known to be of eastern European origin and there is concern that they are being exploited and their personal safety is in danger – because of the proximity of electricity in water.
‘There is a major concern that we will be faced with fatalities in the waters off Argyll and Bute.’
‘The money to organised crime and criminals is significant,’ said DCI Young. ‘It makes more than drugs does.
It has been illegal since 1998 to use electro-fishing methods but earlier this year the Scottish Government brought in tougher licensing measures.
To date have failed to make any significant headway against the problem and those caught so far have only been fined derisory amounts, typically £1000, whilst the illegal activity taking place off the coast of Argyll alone, is believed to be making upwards of £65,000 a day in sales.