Russell welcomes EC acceptance of Scottish scheme –

Russell welcomes EC acceptance of Scottish scheme Published:  14 April, 2008

Mike Russell

SCOTTISH Environment Minister Mike Russell today welcomed European Commission acceptance of the “principles” of Scotland’s trail-blazing conservation credits scheme.

Speaking from today’s EU Fisheries Council in Luxembourg, Mr Russell said the session was an excellent opportunity for him to see at first hand the EU Council of Ministers and to meet key EU colleagues.

He went on:”The Council looked in particular at the proposals which the Commission has just published on revising the cod recovery plan. We welcomed the Commission’s acceptance of the principles underlying Scotland’s successful and groundbreaking Conservation Credits Scheme but warned that there would need to be intensive discussion on the detail.

“We took the opportunity to press the Commission to give fresh impetus to its programme for simplifying the Common Fisheries Policy.

“We also made clear the importance of a level playing field on controls, both within the EU and, in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, globally.”

At today’s session,the Commission tabled its recently-adopted proposal to amend the cod recovery plan which has been in place since 2004.

Recent scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Commission says, concludes that the current measures have been inadequate to reduce fishing pressure on cod to the point where it could allow the stock to recover. Of the four cod stocks concerned, only North Sea cod has shown some limited signs of potential improvement due to better abundance of juvenile fish. The main changes proposed by the Commission include new objectives based on fishing mortality rates, rather than on stock biomass targets, simplification of the fishing effort management system, and a more flexible approach in adapting the rate of fishing pressure reduction to different stages of recovery. Member States will be able to develop specific mechanisms to encourage the reduction of discards and the application of cod-avoidance programmes. The plan would also be extended to cover the Celtic Sea cod stock. The Commission’s proposal, they say, is based on the “collective experience” of implementing the plan over the last three years, and on the opinions of stakeholders as summarised in the symposium on cod recovery held in March 2007. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.