Fisheries deal brings some relief amidst ongoing challenges –

Fisheries deal brings some relief amidst ongoing challenges Published:  16 December, 2010

Despite some cuts to quotas, many of which are part of long term management plans, the Scottish Government navigated round proposed drastic cuts to major stocks in Scotland and secured increased fishing opportunities across a range of valuable stocks in both West of Scotland and North Sea waters.

However, the fragility of white fish stocks on the west coast and other decisions serve as a painful reminder of the damage inflicted on our fishing industry by counter-productive regulations designed in Brussels.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Many fishermen can breathe a sigh of relief that the exhausting negotiations of the last two days and indeed recent months have resulted in some of the more draconian cuts proposed by the EU being dropped and increased fishing opportunities across key stocks in west of Scotland and North Sea waters. Indeed, the industry overall is likely to make an economic gain from the recent round of negotiations, even though this is against a very difficult backdrop for some sectors.

“Tackling the ongoing issue of discards remains one of the best ways to increase the fleet’s income and conserve stocks. We will take another step forward by expanding our discard avoidance scheme that rewards participating vessels with additional cod quota. However, as this week has made clear, Europe still insists on imposing regimes and quota decisions that encourage discards.

“The cuts on the west coast for white fish stocks following those of recent year, and while modest at 125,000 pounds, are important to the boats involved. Likewise, the 15 per cent cut in west coast prawns is against a background of less than three-quarters of the quota being taken up in this year.

However, the low white fish quotas on the west coast will be extremely difficult to manage and could even lead to greater discards. We are now working closely with the industry to introduce more appropriate measures. The west coast situation highlights how the Brussels decision-making process has let Scotland down.

“The fleet now knows that the level of fishing opportunities for 2011 will have a broadly similar economic value to 2010. However, the coming year must see the industry and Scottish Government working together to change those EU regulations that are undermining Scotland’s fishing communities and our rich stocks.”