Lochhead voices concern over Fisheries Fund decisions in Luxembourg.

Talks in Luxembourg today (Monday October 22) on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) could have big implications for the future of Scottish fishing communities.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead is attending the EU AgriFish Council, where further discussions are scheduled on the EMFF, the funding stream set to replace the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) from 2013, as part of Common Fisheries Policy reform plans.

By the end of 2013 the EFF will have delivered around £90m assistance through £200 million in total investment for Scottish communities and businesses, demonstrating the impact on Scotland’s coastal economy.

Mr Lochhead said: “We need to get the right package in place through the CFP negotiations and in June we secured ambitious plans for reform, which we hope will lead to sustainable fishing with discards being tackled, with more management control returning to Scotland. But we need the right package of measures to meet the challenges and the EMFF plans are also critical to the future viability of Scottish fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

“With more than £150 million investment delivered through grants to date, the EFF is delivering a diverse range of support for fishermen, fish farmers, processors and fishing communities. The fragility of our local coastal economies means that this support has been critical – and it must continue through the EMFF.

“I back the proposals for funding to be maintained at current levels under the new scheme, with targeted support to ensure we can deliver meaningful reforms and provide sustainable economic growth. However, it is very concerning that the UK Government has not supported protecting the EMFF budget – or the necessary measures to deliver that budget.

“With the lion’s share of the UK’s seafood landings and aquaculture activity based in Scotland, clearly we will be hit hardest by any cuts to this EU funding. We cannot allow that to happen.”