Scottish fishing boats are under fire for trawling seas far from home for catches of tuna, shark, swordfish, mackerel and sardines.
The Sunday Herald can reveal that at least five vessels registered in Scotland have been licensed to fish as far afield as the Indian Ocean and off the northwest African coast.
Along with boats from elsewhere in Europe, they are facing criticisms that they are plundering foreign seas, damaging local fishing industries and threatening fish stocks.
As fish stocks in European waters have declined, big fishing businesses have increasingly searched further afield for more lucrative and less depleted waters. Scottish fishermen, already in straightened circumstances, are also keen to exploit foreign waters in order to keep operating.
According to a new study for the conservation group, WWF, a third of the world’s ocean surface is now being heavily fished, ten times more than in the 1950s.
Over 700 vessels from European Union (EU) countries are now exploiting seas outwith the EU, mostly from Spain, France and Portugal. But they also include nine vessels registered in the UK, five of them in Scotland.