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Crime gangs targeting Fife’s beaches to steal shellfish

Pettycur Bay near Kinghorn has been the scene of some illegal shellfish rustling.
Pettycur Bay near Kinghorn has been the scene of some illegal shellfish rustling.

Fife’s beaches are being plundered by criminal gangs, putting human health and the environment at risk.

Police have been acting on tip-offs about unlicensed gangmaster activity at coastal seaside locations throughout the kingdom.

Officers from Police Scotland joined forces with the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and immigration enforcement to visit the Pettycur Bay area to identify individuals breaking the law by collecting large quantities of razor clams, which are protected under the Sea Fisheries Act 2017.

While no offences were observed during the operation last week, agencies are worried Fife is becoming a hotspot for an increasingly lucrative underground trade.

Constable Lindsay Kerr, wildlife and environmental crime officer for Fife, said a number of people were spoken to and reminded of their responsibilities under the legislation.

“There are a number of concerns with the illegal collection of razor clams, given its increased links to organised crime groups nationally,” he said.

“Our objective is to identify who is involved and why, as well as establishing the wellbeing of those collecting the razor clams and who is tasking them with doing so.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners to investigate this matter and anyone with information should contact us immediately.”

Harvesting razor clams can impact on their populations and damage the coastal ecosystem. There are also fears contaminated seafood is being traded on a commercial scale before finding its way onto dinner plates across the UK and abroad.

Collecting more than 30 razor clams per person, per day is illegal.

Anyone with information can contact police in Fife via 101 or make an anonymous report to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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