Action plan "doomed to fail" claim grouping –

Action plan “doomed to fail” claim grouping Published:  25 September, 2006

THE Fishermen’s Association (FAL) claimed today the Scottish Executive’s Action Plan (SeaFAR) is doomed to failure because it ignores the “fundamental reality” that Scottish fishing industry policy is dictated by Brussels and implemented by Westminster, with Scottish ministers, politicians and officials “virtual bystanders.”

FAL argues that the Action Plan to be launched by Scottish fisheries minister Ross Finnie at a high profile event in Musselburgh tomorrow cannot protect Scottish fishing communities against the damaging policies of Brussels and London implemented under the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

“Scotland has a rich abundance of fish stocks in its waters, yet our fishing communities are powerless to stop them being plundered by the European Union,” said FAL secretary Roddy McColl.

“The Scottish Executive document effectively ignores the overarching policy that has caused ‘Sea Clearances’ for Scotland and other parts of the UK – the CFP. As long as the UK fishing industry is subject to the diktat of ‘Brussels’ its fishing industry, ancillary businesses and fishing communities will continue to suffer the consequences of a ruinous policy that has caused such misery for so many families and businesses.

“The political end game for the EU is an integrated EU fleet, operating in EU waters under the central control of the EU Commission being told where, when and with what to fish.

“The Action Plan fails to recognise this truth and in so doing those parties who subscribe to it are not delivering a vision of a profitable, sustainable and well managed industry but one where competence for fisheries remains with the EU.”

The Action Plan sets out a strategy to build a prosperous and sustainable fishing industry, and FAL says it welcomes some of the initiatives, such as those aimed at improving catch quality and the efficiency of the supply chain.

But FAL says the Plan’s claim that many sectors of the Scottish industry are profitable and successful and that most important stocks are well managed, ignores current EU Commission proposals for further huge reductions in 2007 in fishing for species that are vital to Scotland – particularly white fish such as haddock, and prawns.

“These proposals are on the table because the European Commission is hell-bent on pursuing a policy of saving cod at all costs and therefore restricting all cod fishing and fishing they say is linked to cod,” said Mr McColl.

“It insists on continuing to implement a plan to rebuild cod stocks that has patently failed, despite being in force for some five years and destroying two thirds of the Scottish white fish fleet in the process – something that seems to have been completely forgotten in the drive to promote ‘good news’ stories.”

FAL also dismisses the Plan’s vision that Scotland can take the lead in international fisheries management via the CFP by improving international frameworks and setting an example by making top quality Scottish seafood a global leader.

“The fact is that Brussels now has exclusive legal power, through the CFP that gives equal access to a common resource, to conserve and manage all fish and shellfish in waters out to 200 miles,” said Roddy McColl.

“To talk about Scotland taking a lead in Europe is rubbish. It flies in the face of the political realities of the CFP and implies that Scotland has far more influence in EU negotiations than is really the case – it is in fact Westminster that takes the UK lead in EU negotiations and even it has little influence, as the destructive fisheries deals in recent years in Brussels have amply demonstrated.”

Yet this Plan requires the industry to be fully committed to working within the CFP, which has had and continues to have such a devastating effect on the industry and the communities it supports.

“It gives unfounded hopes of sustainable, profitable and well managed Scottish fisheries and fish industry to temporarily soften the force of the real disaster that has been engineered.

“Far from guaranteeing a secure future for future generations as it claims, the Action Plan is in reality a costly but camouflaged exercise to develop a small and they hope an economically viable industry with minimal government engagement.

“This is where the Action Plan is heading and the industry is being deceived in to believing it can influence and be influential in determining its future well being.”

FAL also claims that a pending change in the UK to a system of internationally transferable individual quotas will mean the end of relative stability – the system of guaranteed national shares of EU quotas – and allow Brussels to achieve its objective of an integrated EU fleet operating in EU waters to the further detriment of the Scottish industry.

FAL says that boats are being forced into bankruptcy and out of the fleet by a combination of totally inadequate but rigorously policed quotas.

The Association also dismisses the Action Plan’s claim that the new regional advisory councils will give more management powers to the fishing industry. It says that legal EU realities mean that they can only remain advisory, cannot become management organisations and are in fact designed to promote the development of the CFP.

FAL says that the industry should unite behind the common objective for repatriation of the UK’s sovereign waters and to restore national control and management of our fisheries resources. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.