Thursday, 3 September 2009

29th July 2009 - Shore Rights

A customer asked me to find out what the kelp and fishing rights situation is in Orkney. Do homeowners near the shore actually own the shore and all its fruits or can local residents help themselves to tangles and trout?

The answer does not seem to be clear cut. Udal law i.e. Norse Law which I suppose is now Common Law dictates that the shore (down to the low-water mark) and that which is produced there belong to the landowners.

There is, however, a tradition in Orkney where local residents each have a bit of beach that they can comb and harvest from as they see fit. In Westray, some of these specific bits of beach even have their own names. Was this gathering at the discretion of the major landowner, however? Is it still legal to gather and fish from the shoreline next to a house owned by someone else?

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