Lobbying is paying off,says grouping Fishing Monthly Published: 28 April, 2004
INTENSE lobbying by a leading fishermens grouping in Brussels in a bid to land more fishing days a month is winning a “positive” response, it was claimed today, Wednesday April 28.
George MacRae, secretary of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said he believed the decision to concentrate the associations firepower through a programme of frequent visits by association leaders to Brussels was proving the right formula and he was now hoping for a successful outcome to their campaign.
He went on:”If ever there was a case for the Scottish fishing industry having a permanent lobbying presence in Brussels this is it. We believe that our message on the need for more days is getting home and we are hoping for good news on this issue with approval of more days at a EU meeting in June.
” More and more people are becoming aware of the iniquities of the present regime and the association has mounted a concentrated campaign in Brussels recently to try to convince Brussels bureaucrats that the 15-days-at-sea regime is hopelessly uneconomic. We believe our case is being accepted.”
MacRae is not saying how much of a days increase is in the associations shopping list but the catching sector is on record as saying it must have at least 22 days a month to stay viable.
Meanwhile, the grouping has said that the message to all UK politicans, particularly those of the opposition parties, is that if you are prepared to support unilateral withdrawal of the UK from the CFP, why not give support to the promised referendum on the European constitution conditional on Common Fisheries Policy withdrawal being achieved?
The Association said that conditions to be attached to support for the referendum could be widened into other areas where there are concerns for the UK as part of the EU.
” Despite any referendum being about a constitution in Europe, it will really be a judgement of the feelings of the British people on Europe and who knows what might happen between now and the time the referendum is held,” MacRae contended.
One thing was certain, the Scottish National Party initiative last weekend when the party made an offer to Tony Blair to canvas for support for a yes vote in a future UK referendum on the European constitution, apparently on condition that no more control over UK fisheries is to be given to Brussels, meant fisheries will be at the very heart of the debate on the referendum, guaranteeing the problems associated with European mismanagement over the last 30 years can be kept in the public focus. “That in turn will ensure that fisheries problems will not be kicked into the long grass by either the Scottish Executive or Westminster, as the more public focus there is on the problems associated with fishing, the greater is the likelihood that something will be done to resolve them,” he added.