By Patricia Lewis
Police have been handed new powers to deal with illegal cocklers on the Solway Firth.
The Scottish Government has passed new legislation to make it easier to prosecute offenders.
Cops no longer have to catch illegal cocklers red-handed.
Prosecutors can now “infer” that an accused person had gathered or was about to gather the shellfish illegally.
The Scottish Parliament passed the new measures as part of the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill.
The move has been welcomed by politicians in the south west.
Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson said: “The police have undoubtedly more powers now because of the bill. I strongly welcome that.”
And south of Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish said: “I am pleased that the Scottish Government has listened to the concerns of communities and taken steps to increase powers to the authorities who are working to tackle illegal cockling.
“The difficulty of catching suspects in the act of illegal fishing has seriously hampered efforts to crack down on this issue to date but these provisions should help deliver more effective enforcement. More....