Fight erupts over sale of Scottish fishing quotas
The UK's fisheries minister, Jonathan Shaw, has formally warned theScottish executive that in his opinion the moratorium on fishing quotes is illegal and not allowed under devolution rules.
The Scottish Parliament is able to enact laws only in certain areas according to the devolution powers given to it by Westminster.
Scottish nationalist ministers in Edinburgh have been accused of illegally trying to seize control of fish stocks after they imposed a unilateral ban on the sale of fishing quotas to non-Scottish skippers.
The Scottish National party's (SNP) fisheries minister, Richard Lochhead, has introduced a moratorium on the sale of quotas held by Scottish trawlers while he carries out a controversial review of fishing licences and quota controls which could greatly restrict the rights of English vessels to fish in Scottish waters.
His moratorium provoked a furious response from ministers in the UK government and from fishermen's leaders in both England and Scotland, who accused Lochhead of breaching European law and creating an artificial conflict over fishing rights to stir up a nationalist backlash.
Barries Deas, the chief executive of the York-based National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said: "This move is provocative, highly irresponsible and probably illegal," he said.
"There is no such thing as Scottish or English quota. There is UK quota. If the Scottish executive has any doubts over this, a brief telephone call to the European commission should allay any doubts."