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CFP Reform Brings an Opportunity That Must Not be Wasted

05 October 2012

SCOTLAND, UK - The continuing annual cuts in the number of days that fishing vessels can put to sea must be brought to an end because it is jeopardising the very future of the Scottish fleet, Alan Coghill, president of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, told guests attending the SFF’s annual dinner in Edinburgh.

“The automatic annual cuts that are part of the EC’s Cod Recovery Plan have put unbearable pressure on the fleet, and with encouraging signs of fish stock recovery, it is now time that fisheries management is based on sensible and innovative measures that will secure a sustainable future,” he will say.

Mr Coghill will tell the event, which will be attended by Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead and other leading industry figures, that with the reform process of the Common Fisheries Policy now well underway, it is vital that the discredited and unworkable management regimes of the past are shelved once and for all and replaced by a new regional management system where fishermen are at the heart of the decision-making process.

He will also say that to ensure a profitable and sustainable future it is essential that Government and the industry works closely together – however, there have been worrying signs of divergence recently.

“I would appeal to the Scottish Government and their officials to work more closely with us because there has been some divergence in recent months, particularly with regards to discards policy, inshore matters and the intervention price for fish.”

He will also warn of the insidious creeping effect caused by the flow of misinformation on fisheries from some environmental organisations that is being reproduced without critical analysis by some sections of the media keen to pursue their own agendas.

“This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing fishing over the coming few years, and which culminated only recently with the ridiculous headline that there are only 100 cod left in the North Sea, when the actual figure according to the science is at least 21 million,” he said.

“Such blatant misreporting is doing real harm to the fishing industry at a time when stocks are recovering and when a whole raft of innovative conservation measures are being adopted. It is for this reason that the SFF is now looking at developing strategies that will combat this flow of misinformation. The public deserves better, and they deserve to know the true situation.”

Meanwhile, Mr Coghill will say it is essential that Iceland and the Faroes reach a sensible deal with the EU and Norway on the international management of the North East Atlantic mackerel stock.

“Already, it looks like the total allowable catch for mackerel will be cut next year because of the environmental irresponsibility of Iceland and the Faroes in setting their own grossly over-inflated quotas. The situation is also having a serious impact on some of our whitefish boats because the ongoing uncertainty has denied their traditional access to Faroese fishing grounds.”

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