Rules must be lifted –

Rules must be lifted Published:  05 March, 2010

AT Question Time in the Scottish Parliament last week, Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur, asked the Fisheries Minister, Richard Lochhead, what progress had been made in the review of the West of Scotland catch composition rules which are causing real problems for Orkney and other Scottish whitefish boats.

Replying, Richard Lochhead said that he regretted the decision made at the December meeting of the EU Fisheries Council to extend these rules into 2010 and he told MSPs that the Government was working with the industry to put together a case for the lifting of the rules. But he gave no timescale and no indication of when the case would be made to Europe.

Commenting on the need for urgency in tackling the problem, Liam McArthur later said: “These rules, agreed in 2009, are unworkable. Further cuts in effort and quota signed up to last December have only compounded the problems. It is imperative that the minister and his officials follow up, as matter of urgency, the offer to review the West Coast rules.

He continued: “These rules impact on the Orkney fleet very badly. A more sensible and effective arrangement needs to be put in place without delay. Similarly, the minister must press the European Commission for a positive response on buyback provisions for conservation measures taken last year.”