EU reforms “could cost 1,000 Scots fishing jobs” Published: 14 July, 2011
SCOTLAND’S Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead has warned that yesterday’s proposal to reform the Common Fisheries Policy do not go far enough – and could pose a threat to the fleet.
His concerns were echoed by Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, who said the changes could cost 1,000 fishing jobs, with a 20 per cent cut in the fleet.
The proposals, announced by EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki in Brussels yesterday, have not gone down well in the UK – and certainly not in Scotland which has the largest section of the fishing fleet.
The new measures are due to take effect from 2013, and would give fleets quota shares guaranteed for at least 15 years. As expected discards will be ended.
Ms Damanaki said the current policy had been a failure. “There is over fishing; we have 75 per cent over fishing of our stocks and comparing ourselves to other countries we cannot be happy. So we have to change. Let me put it straight – we cannot afford business as usual any more because the stocks are really collapsing.
Few are arguing with the discards move, but it is the proposal to introduce quota trading rights which is giving most cause for concern. Mr Lochhead said: “There is a huge threat to Scotland lurking within these proposals because, alarmingly, the commission is advocating an expansion in the international trading of fishing quotas.Our fishing rights would end up with faceless overseas-based multi nationals, rather than in the hands of future generations of Scots fishermen.”
He added: “In the complex mixed-fishery of the North Sea it makes sense for Scotland and other nations to have more control over their own fisheries, working in partnership with neighbouring maritime nations.”
The Scottish fears over this market based plan are also shared by Ireland with Simon Coveney, the Republic’s Marine Minister warning it could allow international companies to take over family owned fleets. He also said he was “very disappointed” that Ms Damanaki to “impose this scheme of mandatory privatisation of quotas on member states”.
Mr Lochhead said: “The Common Fisheries Policy has taken decision making over our vast and rich fisheries away from Scotland and into the hands of Brussels, to the severe detriment of our fishing communities and fisheries conservation. That’s why we must grasp this once in a generation chance for radical root-and-branch reform of European fisheries policy.
“I welcome the fact the EU has put forward long-awaited proposals for change, however they need to be a lot more radical if Brussels is not to repeat the many mistakes that have caused so much damage in recent decades.
“Thankfully, there is the opportunity to improve these initial proposals during the tough negotiations that lie ahead over the next two years. With implementation of a new policy planned for 2013, it’s critical that Scotland’s voice is heard in Europe so we can influence its development and bring our expertise to the table.
“I’m pleased that the meaningful conservation of stocks is set to be at the heart of a reformed CFP, with the ecological and economic madness of the discarding of marketable fish – currently enforced on our fishermen by the CFP – to be addressed. I am concerned, however, that a one-step move to a blanket ban on discards could prove counter-productive. Instead, we should be working with fishermen on practical measures that would stop these discarded fish being caught in the first place.”
It is clear that months, if not years of heated argument lie ahead.