SNP President welcomes Shetland Box vote – Fishupdate.com

SNP President welcomes Shetland Box vote Published:  15 February, 2006

SCOTTISH National Party President and MEP Ian Hudghton has welcomed the vote in the European Parliament which, he said, had given full support to his party’s position on retention of the Shetland Box, an area of protected waters around northern Scotland.

The retention move, which had received the support of the parliament’s Fisheries Committee last month, survived despite a last minute attempt by Spanish MEPs to water it down.

The successful SNP text called for the retention of the protected zone beyond the European Commission’s current proposal for a three-year lifespan. The policy received the support of all Scottish MEPs –despite what Mr Hudghton described as the previous failure of Labour to call for the retention of the Box in the original version of the parliamentary report.

Mr Hudghton commented:

“The overwhelming decision of the European Parliament to support an area of protected waters around the north of Scotland is very welcome indeed. MEPs from around Europe have recognised the importance of these waters to Scotland’s northern communities, and have dealt Spanish politicians a heavy blow.

“The Commission must now recognise that the principle of unrestricted access to waters is unsustainable. Fishing rights must be allocated to the communities who depend on them. That is now the political will of the European Parliament and no amount of Spanish lobbying should be allowed to undermine that.

“I have spent the last few weeks speaking to parliamentary colleagues from around Europe and am grateful for the support they have given Scotland’s fishing communities today. The parliament’s vote is a rare example of good news coming from Europe for Scotland’s fishermen – and in the future we must build on the good will demonstrated towards our coastal communities”.

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