Officials take seal predation arguments on board –

Officials take seal predation arguments on board Published:  21 April, 2008

FISHERIES officials have agreed to look at seal predation on cod and other fish stocks. This has emerged in the wake of a meeting between a fishermen’s grouping and officials when soaring fuel costs were also high on the agenda.

Fishermen’s Association (FAL) Vice Chairman Sandy Patience and Secretary Roddy McColl together with Dick James Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation, the major affiliate of FAL, met senior officials of the Scottish Government Marine Directorate on Friday to discuss a wide range of key issues.

These included escalating fuel prices, their impact on members’ business and the recently awarded subsidies made available to French and Spanish fishermen.

Also on the agenda was the cod recovery programme and conservation credits arrangements especially the impact of seal predation on the Scottish west coast cod stocks.

Mr Patience who submitted comparative fuel prices for 2004 and 2008 to the meeting to demonstrate the “serious and adverse” impact of the four-fold increase in four years said: “We were encouraged that the fuel price issue is being taken seriously and that supported by Seafish Industry Authority a number of investigations are being undertaken by the Directorate in to the schemes introduced by other Member States, the economics of the industry and fuel efficient ideas. I am particularly pleased that following the recent meeting between Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead and Commissioner Borg a meeting is being held in the very near future with one of Mr Borg’s cabinet to pursue a number of lines of approach.”

Mr Patience also said that the continuing targeting of fishermen’s operations in the cod recovery programme without looking at the predation by seals was an extremely vexed and emotive issue.

“So, it was very reassuring that following our arguments, the Marine Directorate agreed to undertake a review of seal activity and their predation of cod and other fish stocks,” he added.

Other topics covered in a wide ranging meeting included:

Quota management and licensing in Scotland

Inshore fisheries groups

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