Scottish fishing minister: good times round the corner – Fishupdate.com

Scottish fishing minister: good times round the corner Published:  04 October, 2004

SCOTLAND’S fisheries minister has predicted a pay off for fishermen for the tough conservation measures they have had to endure.

Ross Finnie, told the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation annual dinner that he hoped this year’s scientific evidence on fish stocks will begin to show clearly that sacrifices made in the name of conservation have been worth it.

In a bullish speech in sharp contrast to his addresses at previous dinners, Finnie forecasted a turn round in the fortunes of some of the key stocks.

He said the marine ecosystem has moved centre-stage and there was an increasingly important environmental agenda. But good husbandry of our fisheries includes the social and economic benefits of this renewable resource and he pledged to work with the industry in pursuit of sustainable prosperity.

He went on: “This is not beyond our reach. I hope that this year’s scientific advice will show clearly that Scottish conservation initiatives are turning round some of our key whitefish stocks.”

Prosperous fisheries need good science he said. Otherwise we get excessively precautionary TACs and no prosperity.

You need good science that respects your own knowledge, he said and he needed to ensure that Scottish marine scientists have the tools to do that job on key stocks like nephrops and monkfish.

“I welcome your renewed collaboration with our scientists; and I am happy to announce an additional £4 million for Fisheries Research Services. This will support collaborative fisheries science, procure a new fisheries research vessel, and help us to raise the ICES game.”

The new vessel will replace the existing Clupea which is based in Fraserburgh and which has been in operation since 1969.

At the European level, Regional Advisory Councils have arrived, he said and he was delighted that Scotland will host the first meeting of the North Sea RAC in Edinburgh. As presently constituted they are not an end in themselves.

“If you now make them work, then I hope they may pave the way for true regional management. Meanwhile, we need to get best value out of every fish we catch. Discards are a waste of the natural resource and a waste of operating costs; blackfish undermine the market to everyone’s long-term disadvantage. “We need to deal with such issues effectively,” he said.

Finnie also underlined they needed to pursue quality more ruthlessly.

“At its best, Scottish produce is the best; but we face fierce international competition, particularly from Norway, Iceland and the Faroes. This cannot continue. Traceability and certification arrangements are no longer a luxury: in future, you will not be truly competitive without them.”

Meanwhile following representations made to the Commission, they have recognised the need for fuller and earlier discussion of the December Council business.

“We have been holding stakeholder meetings around the country, and the Commission is organising early discussions of their own,” Finnie added.

Both Finnie and federation vice President Mike Park paid warm tributes to former President of the federation Alex Smith who has stepped down.

Finnie said Smith had steered the SFF through some of its most difficult times and he had fought his corner well.

“All here will recognise your dedication and your integrity,” Finnie added.

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