In 1882, the Fishery Board for Scotland was established for the purposes of protecting sea fisheries in the waters around Scotland and land-based inspection of landed catches. By 1909, the Board's fleet included 5 steam vessels; at the outbreak of World War II, the fleet had been increased to 8 vessels which included 2 small motor boats. The Board's responsibilities were transferred to the Secretary of State for Scotland in 1939.
In April 1991 the Secretary of State for Scotland established the fisheries protection and enforcement services as an executive agency as part of the Government’s Next Steps Initiative, which sought to devolve specific activities from central Government to free-standing organisations, headed by Chief Executives accountable to Ministers. Hence, the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency was established as an executive agency of the Scottish Office with the resources of 230 staff, 20 coastal offices, 6 protection vessels and 2 surveillance aircraft. Following devolution in Scotland, the agency transferred to the control of the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD).
In 2007, the Scottish National Party (SNP) changed the structure of the Scottish Executive (now known as the Scottish Government), and the SFPA became associated with the Director-General of the Environment.
The SFPA has an operating budget of £24.16 million for the financial year 2008-2009.
The Headquarters of the SFPA is located in Pentland House, Edinburgh. It houses the supporting arms of the Agency including Finance, Corporate Affairs, Human Resources, Training, Pay, Procurement and Health & Safety as well as the Prosecution & Enforcement Policy branch and the Marine Monitoring Centre (previously known as the HQ Operations). Pentland House was recently sold for £14.87 million to Camlin Investments Ltd.
Since 1st June 2005, the UK Fisheries Call Centre (UKFCC), based within the MMC, has been the single point of contact for all notification or reporting requirements from fishing vessels in UK waters, working of behalf of the SFPA, the Marine Fisheries Agency of England and Wales (MFA), and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Northern Ireland (DARNDI). The UKFCC is manned 24 hours a day.
The MMC & UKFCC have approximately 13 staff and projected running costs of £707,000 for 2008-2009.
The main tasks for the Coastal SFI is to ensure the integrity of the Quota Management System and the enforcement of regulations on effort limitation, stock recovery programmes, VMS and the Registration of Buyers and Sellers act. This is accomplished by:
Scottish FPVs are not military ships and are not armed. They use the prefix FPV, and fly the SFPA's ensign. Scottish FPVs are responsible for the inspection of fishing vessels at sea in Scottish waters and Scottish vessels in the waters of other member states. The high profile of the fleet at sea acts as a deterent against illegal fishing and is pivotal to the information informing the Real Time Closure (RTC) scheme. FPVs also contribute towards the UK's commitment to NEAFC, with annual patrols in the NEAFC area west of Rockall.
Historically, additional Fishery Protection Vessels were provided by the Fishery Protection Squadron of the Royal Navy which was previously based at Rosyth. In 1994, the Agency determined that this assistance was no longer required and the Fishery Protection Squadron was moved to Portsmouth as part of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR). Since that time, all Fishery Protection operations in Scottish waters (with the exception of joint exercises) have been conducted by SFPA vessels.
The Marine SFI has approximately 133 staff and had projected running costs of £9,421,000 for 2008-2009.
In the tendering for the next two Jura type vessels to be built, the Scottish Executive awarded the contract to a Polish shipbuilder rather than Fergusons, sparking strong criticism from the Scottish National Party. FPV Hirta, was constructed in Remontowa Shipyard, Poland, and launched on 17 August 2007. The vessel joined the fleet in May 2008.
The Minna type are inshore/offshore patrol vessels with a displacement of 781 tonnes and a maximum speed of 14 knots. Vessels of this type can also spend up to 21 days on patrol. Currently there is only one vessel of this type, FPV Minna which was launched in 2003. In May 2006, the vessel replacement programme was delayed, when the SFPA was forced to suspend the tender process for a second Minna type vessel after it was found that the process was in breach of EU procurement rules.
The current Minna is the third FPV to bear the name (named after a character in Sir Walter Scott's novel The Pirate). Previous vessels of this name served between 1901-1939 and 1939-1974.
The older Sulisker type are offshore patrol vessels with a displacement of 1,365 tonnes and a maximum speed of 18 knots. They can spend up to 21 days on patrol. The only ship of this type currently in service is FPV Norna which was launched in 1987. The first of the type, FPV Sulisker was launched in 1980, decommissioned late 2005 and is currently undergoing conversion to a luxury yacht in Lowestoft. FPV Vigilant, launched in 1982, was decommissioned in Spring 2008.
The last of the Island type, FPV Westra was launched in 1975 and decommissioned in 2003. The vessel was purchased by Sea Shepherd in 2005 and was renamed MY Robert Hunter in memory of one of the two founding members of Greenpeace. The vessel has since been renamed MY Steve Irwin. The Island type were offshore patrol vessels with a displacement of 1,017 tonnes and a maximum speed of 16.5 knots. In contrast to the more modern vessel types, the Island type could only remain on patrol for 16-18 days.
The main tasks of the aerial surveillance aircraft are to:
On 30 January 2008, the First Minister, Alex Salmond, announced that the SFPA would merge with parts of the Scottish Government and possibly the Fisheries Research Services to form a single Scottish marine management organisation. On 14 July 2008, the Scottish Government released a consultation on the Scottish Marine Bill which named the proposed marine management organisation as Marine Scotland. The consultation states: "We envisage that Marine Scotland... would absorb in large part the existing resources of the Scottish Government Marine Directorate, FRS and the SFPA, along with some other existing resources currently devoted to functions to be integrated under its responsibilities."
Two options are discussed in the consultation with regards to the delivery arrangements of Marine Scotland. One option is for a "virtual body" which would require the existing bodies involved in marine management to co-ordinate, integrate and streamline management and regulatory activity, systems and processes through statutory provisions. The second option requires Marine Scotland to be an integrated body with responsibility for policy, marine planning, science and regulation/licensing to the limits of devolved responsibilities.
The status of Marine Scotland is also discussed with three options available: to be either part of the Scottish Government, an Executive Agency or a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB). The deadline for responses to the consultation was 6 October 2008. A list of the consultees is provided on the Scottish Government website.