Scotland's key role in European maritime policy – Fishupdate.com

Scotland’s key role in European maritime policy Published:  12 October, 2007

Ian Hudghton

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has welcomed the publication of proposals for an integrated EU maritime policy and highlighted the key role that Scotland can play in Europe’s maritime affairs.

Mr Hudghton particularly welcomed the European Commission’s acknowledgment that, whilst the EU can act as a facilitator in

creating a more integrated approach to marine management, the maritime

nations of Europe must retain control of competences within their

national waters.

Noting that Scotland accounts for almost one-sixth of the EU’s

coastline, Mr Hudghton commented that the Scottish Government can play

a vital part in ensuring Scotland’s place at the centre of European

policy development.

He said: “The EU is keen to promote the idea that Europe’s seas should be managed in a more holistic manner in contrast to the current situation whereby different sectors often have little contact with one another. This approach is to be welcomed as it acknowledges the

inter-relationships between different maritime users.

“Also to be welcomed is the Commission’s realisation that Europe’s

maritime policy should not be managed centrally from Brussels.

Management by central diktat has been disastrous for European

fisheries and so moves away from that model must be seen as a positive

step.

“The Commission has recognised the vital role to be played by the

maritime nations in marine governance. Whilst some things, such as

pollution control, are best managed at the EU level other, more

localised issues should be dealt with by individual governments in

co-operation with their neighbours. In this respect, the Scottish

government has a vital role to play, implementing a policy which can

take account of the particularities of Scottish geography, industry

and law – whilst working alongside our neighbouring countries.

“In their proposals, the Commission describes the seas as ‘Europe’s

lifeblood’. In terms of trade, energy, fisheries and resources

Scotland can act as the beating heart for that lifeblood”.

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of Ireland’s Marine Institute has also welcomed the EU Commission’s Blue Paper.

He said: “The Commission had clearly listened to and responded positively to the many constructive suggestions regarding the role of science and technology from the Member States and the European Marine Science Community.”

“I particularly welcome the commitment of the Commission to address the key recommendations of the Aberdeen Declaration — a consensus statement from the European Marine Science Community made earlier this year — outlining how marine science and technology could contribute to the social and economic opportunities offered by the global market economy and to addressing major challenges such as those posed by global climate change.”

At the public workshop held in Dublin earlier this year as part of the consultation process in support of the EU Green Paper, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs Dr Joe Borg praised Ireland as “an invaluable contributor to the debates on European science policy.

“Ireland is consistently cited in global benchmarking studies as a model for best practice in innovation in the knowledge economy,” he said.

Ireland already has an integrated marine research policy in “Sea Change – A Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007 – 2013”, which aims to drive the development of the marine sector as a dynamic element of Ireland’s knowledge economy.

Sea Change uses a series of carefully calculated possible scenarios for Ireland by the year 2020 to define global market opportunities linked to the development of marine technologies and resources, as well as practical costed action plans and clearly defined objectives regarding how those opportunities might be achieved.

Sea Change also highlights the need for a shift away from the traditional view of the sector as one primarily associated with the harvesting of food, and points towards a wide variety of market-led opportunities in sustainable energy, functional food products, transport, technology and environmental well-being.

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