New blunder must be put right, says industry –

New blunder must be put right, says industry Fishing Monthly Published:  27 February, 2004

A FISHERMEN’S grouping today called for immediate action to end the latest “shambles” to arise from the EU fisheries deal.

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Hamish Morrison has told Susan Boyack, Chair of the Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs Committee that there must be an urgent parliamentary initiative to annul the Scottish Statutory Instrument which imports European days at sea regulations into Scottish Law.

Mr Morrison said a clause in the regulation bans even the carriage of certain fishing gears throughout a vast area of Scotland’s adjacent waters.

He said this was never the intention of the EU regulation since the gears in question,creels, scallop dredges and pelagic mid-water trawls, have no impact on cod stocks.

He said the statutory instrument in question came into force on February 1 but was not published until last week so that detailed scrutiny of its provisions was only possible in recent days.

Mr Morrison added: “ The Executive did not consult the industry about the content of this Instrument. The Parliament may only annul the Scottish statutory instrument. It has no power to amend it and action must be taken within 40 days. Time is short and in the meantime innocent fisheries are outlawed.

“As a matter of urgency the minister must make an announcement that an error has been made and that no prosecutions will be pursued under the relevant provision. As soon as it can be arranged Parliament must annul the instrument. Clearly a substitute order must now be brought forward but this must be done in consultation with the industry.

“This episode is only the latest shambles to arise from the ill considered regulations agreed by the Council of Ministers (including the UK) last December. The eccentric haddock management plan is unravelling and very soon the Commission will make substantial but grudging amendments. The inflexible effort management conditions have already compromised safety and added crippling unnecessary costs to the industry.

“The Commission and the UK government must now have the courage to acknowledge this catalogue of blunders and have a grown-up consultation with the industry to reconcile what is desirable with what is possible in fisheries management.”

A spokeswoman for the Scotttish Executive said she would look into the issue.