"A solution must be found", says Park – Fishupdate.com

“A solution must be found”, says Park Published:  26 April, 2010

A FISHERMEN’S leader said today that skippers would be willing to increase cod conservation measures in order to head off fishery closures.

Mike Park, the executive chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association, said that a solution must be found to a crisis that, it is feared, could lead to thousands of jobs being lost if closures are forced on the seafood sector due to a days at sea issue.

A grim forecast of an impending crisis if closures go ahead was issued on Friday in the wake of a meeting of Scottish fish producer organisations and processors at Peterhead.

Following the meeting involving the major stakeholders in the Scottish fishing industry, a statement was issued which warned that closures must not be “thrust” on an industry already facing a range of economic challenges.

The statement underlined that if fishery closures due to effort limitation are imposed on the industry: “serious implications for the catching and processing sector will result.”

The statement added that a well managed fishery is vital for the future of the Scottish fleet and the processing sector, but the imposing of a “short-term; short-notice closure policy” will cause economic disaster.

“It is estimated 4-5000 jobs in the processing sector in the North East of Scotland are at risk if these closures are implemented as well as the future prosperity of communities across the region,” the statement concluded.

Today Mr Park said that the industry was facing a “very serious” situation.

He said that there was a need to find a solution rather than apportion blame for what had happened but the fact was that skippers were faced with coping with the consequences of “incorrect analysis.” However, his view was that more days could be found under the terms of the cod recovery plan rather than moving to cut the fleet’s operations.

To achieve more days in the system meant reducing cod mortality still further, but skippers would be “more than willing” to do their bit to achieve this.

 “As long as we can reduce cod mortality still further there should be more days in the system. Cuts are not an option which should be pursued,” he said.

“At the moment, there is a clear discrepancy between what we have been allocated for boats and what we have available and some assessments have not been correct.”