(77) Whales and devolution issues
The vexed issue of who is responsible for the disposal of dead stranded whales (see (1997) 1 Edinburgh Law Review 406, Archive No 15) took a new twist early in February 2000, when the carcase of a sperm whale was found wedged on the rocky shore of the isle of Vaila in the Shetlands. The Receiver of Wrecks argued that, if the remains exceeded 46 feet in length so that they fell to the Crown as a royal fish, responsibility had been devolved to the Scottish Executive under the Scotland Act 1998. The Executive reserved its position. The matter was resolved – or, perhaps, left unresolved for the time being – when the remains were found to be 41 feet long, meaning that the Crown had no claim to the whale and that its disposal was for the Shetland Islands Council.