MEP attacks Labour line on Shetland Box – Fishupdate.com

MEP attacks Labour line on Shetland Box Published:  16 November, 2005

SNP President and Euro MP Ian Hudghton today reacted with “disappointment” at a report written by a Scottish Labour MEP on the future of the protected waters around Shetland and Orkney.

The SNP says it has obtained a report on the Shetland Box which is due to be discussed at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee later this month.

The report’s author, Scottish MEP Catherine Stihler, based her work largely on a document already written by the European Commission, according to the SNP

However, in so doing, the Scottish nationalist party claims she omitted to mention key evidence provided to the Commission by their own scientific advisers which goes further in recommending the retention of the Shetland Box.

Mr Hudghton commented:

“This Labour-produced report on the future of the Shetland Box copies sections from the Commission’s own report in which they offer the protected zone a short term reprieve. However, both reports miss out important elements of the Commission’s own advisory committee submission calling for retention of the Box. The Labour document also marks a weakening of previous assurances on the Box’s future given by UK and Scottish Executive ministers.

“There are strong arguments in favour of seeking to improve the current fishing regime around Shetland and the north, and further research into future options is welcome. However, there are powerful voices in Brussels who want open access to all waters – and political realities dictate that we have a tough fight on our hands to prevent a free-for-all in the long term.

“The EU’s scientists have been quite clear that elimination of the Shetland Box should be avoided. They have also stated that the fishing areas around the northern isles are possibly more important now than they have ever been. These are powerful arguments which must be pushed by Scotland’s politicians if we are to retain any sort of protected area around the north.”

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