The seaside resort of Ayr, on the Scottish southwest coast, used to be famous for its large trawling fleet, but the lack of activity in the harbor last summer has reflected the great rundown in offshore fishing throughout the United Kingdom.
Scotland has been badly affected by overfishing on its once well stocked western and eastern seaboards. Rising fuel costs and inflation have reduced the great herring boat fleets from Ayr and nearby ports to solitary boats engaged in fierce competition with modern Common Market trawlers and fast Spanish vessels.
Scots skippers are particularly concerned about mass fishing by European Community boats, some of which are said to operate illegally within the 12-mile sea zone of Scotland. Scots trawler owners have also complained bitterly about Soviet and Polish vessels "overfishing" and scooping up huge shoals of herring for processing in giant factory ships.
But it is the inshore "raiding" of Danish, French, Dutch, and other EC-owned vessels that has provoked Scottish fishermen to ask the British government to take a tougher stand in the Common Market about protecting the U.K. from fleets of aggressive foreign trawlers.
Scotland will get a large part of the $:14 million ($33.6 million) aid promised to the fishing industry by the Thatcher government, but the aim is only to help fisherman over six months. The U.K. is negotiating with Common Market countries about limiting EC fishing activity around Britain's coast, and some British trawler owners have said that 1,000 British boats will be laid up by Easter if the U.K. does not take a firm stand against its European alliance partners.
A spokesman for the Scottish National Party has said that 400 Scots fishing vessels, a large part of Scotland's total number of trawlers, have been laid up.