Scottish Fishermen's Federation launches vision for future –

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation launches vision for future Published:  06 April, 2011

THE  Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has launched a fresh vision for the country’s fishing industry, outlining the main points of action that the newly-elected Scottish Government must address after the May election.

The manifesto ‘Scottish Sea Fisheries and the next Scottish Government – Facing the Challenges’ says that those seeking election must embrace their future responsibilities by meeting the challenges and assisting the future development of the Scottish fishing industry. Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive said: “A refreshed vision is required from government for the Scottish Fishing Industry.  In its absence, policymaking and reaction to events will be short sighted. Specifically, this vision must identify within realistic limits what size and shape of fleet would best serve Scotland.  “The SFF believes that the new government should aspire to ensure where realistically possible the financial viability of the existing fleet by avoiding artificially created and unnecessary reductions.  The vision, once formed, must direct the strong efforts of government in shaping national and international policy, thereby avoiding enslavement to it.  Proper recognition of Scottish initiatives and sacrifices must occur.” Other key elements of the manifesto are:- The structure of the industry and its linkage to communities must bear greater influence on policy-making. Scotland’s diverse fisheries are embedded in local communities and policy development must take this into account, including a consistent government push for meaningful regional control in the imminent reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Sustainable catching opportunity must be a primary focus. As a core government function, there needs to be a renewed focus on pursuing sustainable catching opportunity, looking forward to stock improvements in the future.  While it is absolutely essential that due attention is paid to all the diverse aspects of fisheries management and regulation, and to our stewardship responsibilities for the environment, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are harvesting food. A new focus on fisheries science. Decisions on catching opportunity are based upon stock science.  However, for a significant proportion of stocks important to the Scottish industry this is inadequate and there has always been a really unhelpful time lag.  Furthermore, there is a considerable gap between fishermen’s conception of stock abundance, in the light of their daily experience, and the science.  This gap must be closed.  The Responsible Marine Spatial Planning. For a number of obvious reasons there is strong pressure to facilitate renewable energy development before the framework for managing the seas is actually in place.  The next government must ensure that sober balance prevails in allocating sea space to new development; proper account must be taken of existing use, including, most especially, the harvesting of seafood. A renewed team approach. This will be an essential in the development of Scottish fishing and its representation on UK and international platforms.  Experience has long since demonstrated that those nations whose industries and government have common purpose do best in the pursuit of opportunity and good governance.  Over the last few years Scotland has demonstrably done better than many nations in government/industry cooperation.  However, as a consequence of the mounting challenges facing the industry, in particular that of financial viability in some sectors, this has become more difficult.  The new government must take the opportunity of an overall fresh start to build the trust and cooperation that will foster success.