Prawn issue is a nonsense, says industry figure Published: 23 January, 2006
A SCOTTISH industry spokesman said today that the prawn allocation issue facing the over-10m Scottish prawn fleet was totally intolerable.
However, George MacRae, secretary of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said that in terms of battling for a fair allocation system following the prawn quota increases, they had the bit between their teeth and will not give up on the issue.
All we are seeking is for everyone to get their fair share, he said.
Mr MacRae said that the very real fear that the under 10m/non-sector part of the UK prawn fleet would be given an unjustifiably large slice of the prawn quotas increase was causing severe alarm throughout the Scottish prawn industry.
The very thought that one sector should receive benefit at the expense of another is quite unacceptable. That situation is made worse when you realise that if, for example a substantial chunk of prawns are allocated to the under 10m/non-sector part of the fleet, the quantity of prawns required to do this can only come the Scottish over 10m prawn fleet which has done everything possible to sustain and regenerate the prawn stock and has a brilliant track record in his respect.
Many of our skippers have incurred considerable costs in buying in or leasing quota and here is possibly a substantial part of a well-deserved reward for good husbandry being denied them for some unacceptable excuses.
We have no difficulty in the under-10m sector being given an increase in relation to their existing performance but not at the expense of others.
There are strong arguments that the Government has built up a legal obligation to deliver the prawn catching increase on a pro-rata basis but the way this whole situation is going is a nonsense, bearing in mind all the work which has been done by the over 10m fleet in terms of good husbandry.
What is more in 1999, the UK Government had introduced the fixed quota allocation system designed to give some stability for the industry and a legitimate expectation had subsequently been built up that because the prawn fishery was being looked after well, the over-10m vessels would reap a justifiable reward from any increase .
A pro-rata division of any prawn increase is a legitimate expectation for anyone.
On industry hopes for an increase in the Northern Shelf monkfish fishery, Mr MacRae said he certainly hoped the Scottish industry would have the speed of response to evidence which was being gathered on the stock state of the kind which English fishermen had enjoyed in their own battle for a monkfish increase in the South-west of England.
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