Leaders Frustration – Fishupdate.com

Leaders Frustration Published:  10 September, 2008

A LOCAL fishing leader has voiced his frustration with the way the industry is being managed after a meeting of the new Scottish fisheries Council, in Edinburgh yesterday.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association chairman Leslie Tait said fishermen were still being penalised even though they were complying with all the latest conservation measures.

And he warned that tougher times lay ahead with the European Commission seeking a further 25 per cent reduction in effort for 2009.

His comments came in stark contrast to the upbeat message from Scottish fishing minister Richard Lochhead who announced the formation of a special summit to tackle the emotive issue of discards in late September and a special meeting with the Norwegian state secretary Vidar Ulriksen early in October.

Mr Tait said fishermen had already been doing all they could to reduce

discards and what was needed now was a significant increase in TACs to

allow them to land the marketable fish they catch.

“Discards used to be undersized fish. There has been a lot of work done on this and most of out fleet has now increased mesh sizes. They have now very few undersized discards,” Mr Tait said.

“Fish they are now discarding are of a marketable size but they have no TAC for it.

“There has been a terrible lack of recognition over the last two to three years that cod is recovering, and in fact has recovered.

“Cod is not the only problem. We have the same issue with megrim and

whiting. Most of it is caused by the same reason, lack of quota,” he said.

He added that a lot of the problem was caused by outdated science and

called for more “real time data” to be used for fish stock assessments.

He said that because most of the data used was two to three years old, fish stocks that had recovered were dumped straight away as scientists were unable to notice the stock recovery.

“Stocks can be recovered and basically dumped before the recognition comes through. It is a terrible waste of a human resource,” he said.

“The boats have upped mesh size, we have suffered a huge decommissioning, we have an awful lot less effort on the stocks now than there has ever been, and yet the EC proposals for everything are down.

“Have we not been here before? Vessels have gone along with conservation credit schemes, they have gone along with closed areas, they have absolutely complied with voluntary closed areas to avoid cod, and yet what do fishermen get back? Punishment!

“This is supposed to be a system that treats good behaviour with a carrot, but we are going to be beaten with a stick again.”

Mr Lochhead agreed that it was vital for the fleet to be able to land more cod. “I am not alone in believing that discards are an environmental and economic waste – fishermen, scientists and the public are all in agreement on this issue.

“Tackling discards will be a priority for the autumn and beyond and the Discards Summit is crucial to our ambition of reducing this major waste of resource.

“The Scottish fishing industry and the Scottish Government are already

taking decisive action to tackle discards, including under the

ground-breaking Conservation Credits Scheme. Now we need to build on that progress and extend our ambition even further.

“We are keen to explore together ways to allow fishermen in the North Sea to land much more of the cod they currently catch and are forced to discard – catching less but landing more,” he said.

The Scottish Fisheries Council is a joint working group of the fishing

industry, conservation groups and the scientific community and provide

direct access to the government.

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