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Call for Parliament to Focus on Effort Cuts Facing Scottish Fishing

12 December 2012

SCOTLAND, UK - With the fisheries debate to be held in the Scottish Parliament today Wednesday 12 December, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation is warning that the fishing industry is facing a significant threat in the form of further cuts in the number of days that fishing vessels can put to sea.

The end-of-the-year European Fish Council meeting in Brussels to decide upon catching opportunity for 2013 gets underway on 18 December, and the SFF is keen that politicians don’t let the longer term picture of the forthcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy mask the very real and immediate problems facing the industry.

Under the EC’s Cod Plan, the Scottish fleet is facing a further annual cut in the number of days it can put to sea in 2013. This is despite scientific advice that the North Sea cod stock is increasing (along with many other fish stocks) and that Scots fishermen have pioneered a range of technical and other conservation measures that have dramatically reduced fish discards.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, said: “The big issue facing the industry is the EU’s long term plan for cod, which is widely recognised by scientists, fisheries managers and the industry as simply not working. Indeed, even the EU’s own scientific advisory body states that the cod plan is flawed.

“It is very easy to focus on the longer term and hope that the introduction of regional management under the new Common Fisheries Policy will be the panacea that will cure the current framework of ill-fitting fisheries management regulation. But this will only be the case if the EC totally loosens its grip on fisheries control, and there is still great uncertainty whether that will ever happen.

“Our most pressing concern is the prospect of further cuts in the number of days that fishing vessels can put to sea for next year. There is very real danger that our fleet will not have enough time available to catch its fish quota.

“The short-term position is being made even worse by a power struggle between the various European institutions over who has supremacy in making fishery management decisions. Unless this dispute is resolved early, then any chance of coherent and sensible fisheries management planning for the Scottish whitefish and prawn fleets for 2013 will be lost.”

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