Scotland’s top chefs recognise it, NGOs recognise it, most everyone except the commercial fishing sector and the Scottish Government do, yet the Government is determined to push ahead and seek an exemption to a EU ban to allow electrofishing for razor clams. despite Cab Sec Lochhead admitting that the Marine Scotland investigation had not addressed the broader question of long-term sustainability nor the medium to long-term effects of electrofishing on marine life.
Meanwhile, many MSPs indicated they would fight any application made to the EU, branding the technique "indiscriminate" and raising concern over the potential dangers to electro-sensory species such as sharks.
Andrew Fairlie, Scotland’s only chef with two Michelin stars has said he is strongly opposed to the practice, having banned razor clams from his menus at his prestigious restaurant in Gleneagles after learning the technique was being used illegally to land the shellfish.
In an interview he said: "I am puzzled about why they would apply for an exemption. Europe has banned this for a reason and I can’t understand why the SNP would want to go back on that.
Mr Fairlie, whose father is a former deputy leader of the SNP and ahead of the referendum campaign served on the board of Yes Scotland, said any move towards legalisation without "absolute facts" would be a risk not worth taking.
"I’m concerned about the impact on other species in what are such delicate eco-systems as well as long-term sustainability. I don’t think it’s worth the risk and we’ve been down the road so many times about the consequences of over fishing.
"If Scotland was to apply for an exemption, it will be open season. Then where does that leave us in 10 or 15 years? It’s a dangerous form of fishing and I don’t think it’s worth allowing for the sake of however many millions of pounds for fishermen’s bank balances."
Tom Kitchin, another of Scotland’s Michelin star chefs, has also previously spoken out against electrofishing, branding it "idiocy" in an open letter to the Scottish Government.
Green MSP Alison Johnstone, the deputy convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on animal welfare, said she would make "every effort" to oppose any relaxation in the law, which has been in force across Europe since 1998 saying : "Electro-fishing is indiscriminate, makes non-target fish susceptible to predators, and there is a lack of research on what impact it has on electro-sensory animals such as sharks.
and continued "The restriction on electro-fishing was brought in for sound reasons, so it’s alarming to hear that the Scottish Government is considering a derogation from EU law.
The Government talks a lot about ‘precautionary principle’ – it would seem that only applies to anything which does not affect the commercial fishing sector.