Europe urged to reward Scottish fishermen for conservation efforts –

Europe urged to reward Scottish fishermen for conservation efforts Published:  05 November, 2009

Scottish Fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead says fleets that take decisive action to tackle discards and pioneer ground-breaking schemes such as Real Time Closures should be rewarded with options to buy back days at sea and allowed to land more of what is currently discarded.

During today’s parliamentary debate, Mr Lochhead also confirmed that the industry is to help co-produce a new fisheries action plan in partnership with the Scottish government. It will aim to provide some respite from tough European restrictions and the worldwide economic recession and be published early next year.

The plan is expected to comprise four key elements: improving the wider international framework for fisheries management, managing fishing quota and effort allocations in a way that promotes sustainability and profitability, working with the industry to help maximise the value of the catch, and ensuring we have a resilient fleet crewed by a skilled workforce.

It comes as ministers and officials prepare to fight for the fairest possible deal for Scotland at the autumn fisheries negotiations.

Speaking at today’s debate, Mr Lochhead said: ‘The worldwide economic recession and subsequent fall in quayside prices combined with illogical restrictions from Brussels have made this a difficult year for some sectors of the fishing industry, and for some 2010 will also be tough.

‘Despite these challenging conditions there are many positives for an industry that produces the world’s best seafood. Scotland’s mackerel sector is thriving and almost two-thirds of our most important stocks where the scientific status is known are being fished sustainably. More than half of Scottish fisheries by value – including our second most valuable, mackerel – are accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council, with even more on the way.

‘Our ‘Eat More Fish’ campaign has helped increase sales of seafood in Scotland by 10 per cent in the past six months and Scotland is taking decisive action to make discards history.

‘Our fleets are leading Europe by example through adopting innovative conservation measures – and they deserve to be rewarded. I will be pushing hard for greater catch quotas to be made available for at least some of our fleets from next year.

‘At the forthcoming negotiations I will pursue outcomes that are balanced and just, which are sensitive to the needs of stocks, but also to the needs of sustaining the industry and our coastal communities. Efforts to rebuild cod stocks will continue to dominate and we will be seeking changes to how the Cod Recovery Plan is implemented in our waters to make it work better for conservation and our fleets.

‘In the meantime we have recognised that our fleets will need additional support to cope with circumstances that are outwith their control. That is why the Scottish government will work with the industry over coming weeks to develop an action plan that will set out a shared vision for the future of Scottish fisheries.

‘We are also continuing to support the highly successful ‘Eat More Fish’ campaign to promote fish consumption into next year. This will include working with fishermen to promote fish in our supermarkets, organising workshops for a chain of gastro pubs to support local sourcing and a media campaign about sourcing Scottish.’

The proposed action plan will be discussed with all sectors of the industry over the coming weeks, and will be discussed in detail at the next meeting of the Scottish Fisheries Council on January 19, 2010.

According to Seafood Scotland, between May – when the ‘Eat More Fish’ campaign was launched – and October this year, total retail sales of seafood in Scotland increased 10 per cent (£8.6 million) in value, compared to five per cent in England and Wales.