Conservationists don't understand criticism impact, say processing grouping –

Conservationists don’t understand criticism impact, say processing grouping Published:  31 March, 2006

CONSERVATION groups were today accused of failing to understand the impact that their “steady criticism” of the fishing industry is having on fishing communities.

Andrew Charles a director of the Scottish Seafood Processors’ Federation said on behalf of other federation directors that Asda’s decision to stop selling North Sea cod was “disappointing.”

Asda, he said, intended to deprive its customers of the ability to buy this “top quality Scottish product.”

But the processing sector was, he said, becoming exasperated by the “continual and unjustified” bad publicity the industry was getting from so-called conservation groups which could result in damaging decisions being made by the sector’s valued customers.

The reality was that the Scottish fishing industry had never done so much to protect Scotland’s top quality fishing assets.

Fishermen had halved their fleet, increased mesh sizes, had to cope with reduced quota and halved their days at sea.

They were also being policed at a level unprecedented in Europe if not the world.

“The reward for these sustainable fishing measures seems to be unmerited steady criticism by conservation groups who fail to understand the damage they are doing to the social and economic well-being of many of our fishing communities.”

These groups might be well intentioned, he said but they had to face up to the reality of the impact they were having on fishing communities.

For their part, processors had implemented logging and information systems working with the government and fishermen to achieve sustainable fishing management systems.

“It appears on the other hand that conservation groups want only to destroy the industry rather than working with it.”

However it must be stressed that “dismaying” as the Asda decision was, it provides opportunites for others.

“It undoubtedly hands on a plate greater opportunities for many other fish retailers to provide the British public with top quality Scottish cod,” he said. 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.