Ever wondered how Manchester United might have the right to take a fishing boat out into Scottish waters? Read on.
Listen in the bars of Scotland's ports and you'd think fishing was a permanent open season for Spanish pirates. This is not even half true.
Some brilliant research by Emma Cardwell, an Oxford PhD student, lifts the lid on the ownership of UK fishing grounds, a system described as the biggest grab on traditional rights since the Norman Conquest.
In 1999 the UK government introduced a quota system to conserve fish stocks. It did this by dividing up the right to fish on a historic basis
Small boat owners, the vast majority of British fishermen, were allocated less than five per cent of the total catch.
Larger vessel owners were given property rights over fish based on their historic catches.
So, the more you had raped the seas the more quota you were given. Well-financed buccaneers were rewarded, small fishing communities went to the wall.
Here in the Hebrides, where they still mourn the extinction of herring by east coast trawlers, people know how mad this was.
At one time thousands of boats caught mackerel and herring around Britain's coast. Now the quota, almost half of total landings by UK registered vessels, is caught by 33 trawlers.
In the private market wealth accumulates itself and the right to fish inevitably ended up in the hands of a few companies with quota used as collateral for loans for more powerful boats.
In Scotland quota ownership is now consolidated in ports like Peterhead and Lerwick, home to sea roaming supertrawlers.
The value of these boats, and their quota rights, runs to hundreds of millions of pounds.
Despite a register, who actually owns the quotas is opaque. Hence the pub tales of large institutions, like Man United and RBS, having a stake in the industry.
This is the untold story of Scottish fishing. A national asset has been handed to profiteering fishing barons. It is manifestly inequitable, bad for conservation and destroys coastal economies.
Think independence will solve it? In Iceland, where fishing companies have deep links to politics, wresting fishing rights back into public ownership has been nigh on impossible.
North Atlantic fishing is a millionaires club, with small communities reduced to scraping a living from shellfish.
Who in Scotland will stand up for a fair distribution of fishing rights that gives coastal communities a chance of survival?