Commission urged to adopt hands-off approach –

Commission urged to adopt hands-off approach Fishing Monthly Published:  21 June, 2004

A FISHERMEN’S leader underlined today, Monday June 21st, that the European Commission must adopt a more hands-off approach to fisheries management and place more trust in member states when it comes to conservation priorities.

Mike Park, chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association who is in Brussels hammering home the case for more fishing days per month for the white fish fleet, said that the EC must back off and replace its “micro-management” with simpler policy that would also be more effective and more trusting.

The UK had to get away from the mess it had been forced to endure this year and the recipe for survival in his view was a very basic one: the ability to be able to catch this year’s enhanced haddock quota, not being burdened with an unnecessary permit and days system.

“We have extra quota but there has to be a simplified scheme to allow us to catch it.” Surviving fleet capacity meant the imposition of heavy shackles on the white fish fleet was simply overkill.

Park said that lobbying by the white fish association in Brussels was proving crucial given it was vital to be at the heart of Commission thinking on the days issue and to be able to provide detailed information to back up the industry’s case as and when required .He was also well aware that extra days had to be achieved before the long EU summer break

But he was baffled as to why the Commission felt it had to always to adopt a micro management stance.

Meanwhile Alex Smith, the president of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said a television documentary last week, which showed a vessel less than seven years old being scrapped under the last decommissioning scheme had underlined an immoral situation.

“ I lobbied very hard against changing the rules to allow vessels under 10 years old to go to decommissioning.

“It is morally wrong and if as we have, a cod recovery programme in place, it is clear that the last decommissioning scheme plus limiting days at sea, was a step too far.”

Meanwhile he did not think it would be possible to catch the UK’s haddock quota this year because of the 15 days restrictions and the effects of decommissioning.

“Why restrict cod fishing to allow us to concentrate on haddock without giving us extra days.

“ There is not a lot of good fisheries management going around at present and there was no need to decommission any more vessels as has been proven by catch uptake this year.”