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asked the Lord Advocate if he will make a further statement on the release of the "Jurid" from Lerwick in view of the statement by the Scottish Fisheries Officers' Association that this was due to instructions received from the Scottish Office.
The Lord Advocate
The powers vested in sea-fishery officers to detain a boat in port until criminal proceedings are completed are clearly and unequivocally set out in the relevant statutes. Section 8(4) of the Sea Fisheries Act 1968 as amended by section 2(8) of the Fishery Limits Act 1976 provides that:
I am advised that, after the skipper of the "Jurid" appeared in court on 24th January 1977 and was granted bail, the Commander of the Royal Navy vessel "Alfriston", the sea-fishery officer who made the initial arrest, was unsure of his powers in this situation and consulted the fishery officer of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland (DAFS). He in turn consulted his head office in Edinburgh as to whether the "Jurid" was free to sail. He was advised that no action could be taken to detain the boat. This advice, however, was based on a misconception of the effect of the granting of bail. The powers of sea-fishery officers under the Acts mentioned above in fact remained available and were not affected by the granting of bail.Neither the procurator fiscal nor the Crown Office was consulted about this matter."Where it appears to a British sea-fishery officer that a contravention of any provision of… section 2 of the Fishery Limits Act 1976… has at any time taken place within the fishery limits of the British Islands, he may take the boat in relation to which the contravention took place and the crew of the boat to the port which appears to him to be the nearest convenient port and detain the boat and the crew in the port until the completion of proceedings for the contravention".