Restrictions “under review,” says Lochhead – Fishfarmer Magazine

Restrictions “under review,” says Lochhead14 July, 2010 – SCOTTISH Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead revealed today that some of the so-called emergency measures, imposed by the European Commission on the West of Scotland, are under review. The restrictions were initially introduced for one year in January 2009 to help protect cod, haddock and whiting. However, they were unexpectedly rolled over last November for a further 18 months following the collapse of discussions on wider technical conservation measures. The Scottish Government has repeatedly pressed the Commission to repeal these “inappropriate” measures. In the meantime, Scottish Government officials say they have worked with the industry to develop a set of alternative measures to those imposed on fishermen on the West Coast of Scotland, and have submitted these to the European Commission. This package of proposed alternative measures contains:(i) a haddock quota uptake rule, to increase flexibility to whitefish fishermen and to reduce haddock discards;(ii) the transposition of the North Sea 110mm net into the West of Scotland, to improve the quality and value of the megrim fishery;(iii) a revision of the coordinates of the ‘French Line’;(iv) the removal of a prohibition on tangle nets to support a seasonal inshore crawfish fishery; and(v) a derogation to allow low powered vessels to operate with  a 2m Square Mesh Panel when inside the French Line. In a statement today, the Scottish Government said the European Commission have requested that the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) evaluate and gives an opinion as to the effectiveness of these measures.  The Scottish Government added today that they considered these measures to be as effective as the EU measures for protecting cod, haddock and whiting, but more appropriate for Scottish fishing practices, thus maximising economic opportunity for Scottish fishermen during these hard times.  “The Scottish Government will provide information to STECF, and hopes that the evaluation process will be completed by the end of the year, with at least some of these proposed changes implemented immediately thereafter,” they added. Commenting tonight, Mr Lochhead said: “This has been a long and hard battle, with the Scottish Government and industry working in partnership to try and overturn these measures. “I have always felt that the continuation of these measures is deeply unfair – we took the unprecedented step of voting against the final package on offer back in November to register our view. “Since then, we have been doing everything we can to develop alternative proposals and request that the Commission amend the inappropriate emergency measures. This is a positive first step, and I am hopeful that we will see some changes to bring timely relief to the West of Scotland. “For now, we will be ensuring that the STECF receives the necessary information and research it will need to make a decision, which we hope will see the ’emergency measures’ amended.”