SCOTTISH inshore fishing businesses with a low environmental footprint have joined a European-wide coalition to push for fairer representation for their skippers.
At a recent meeting, the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation (SCFF), a national trade association for Scottish inshore creel/dive fishermen, agreed unanimously to join Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE).
The move sees nine fishermen’s associations from across Scotland strengthen efforts to back small-scale, low impact fishermen at European level and boosts LIFE’s ever growing membership to over 4,000 active fishermen.
The coalition promotes the interests of its members by pushing for the proper implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy to grant priority access to fishers who have the least impact on the environment.
Alistair Sinclair, national coordinator of the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation (SCFF), said: ‘The majority of Scotland’s inshore fleet is small scale and low impact and yet our interests have historically been marginalised.
‘For too long, regulations have favoured larger vessels and allowed unsustainable fishing to threaten the health of our seas and the livelihoods of low impact fishermen.
‘Profits from the fishing industry are now being captured by increasingly remote interests with little consideration for the people who fish our waters and the places they live.
‘In a world of complex supply chains, we want to see more money stay in the pockets of our small-scale and low impact fishermen.
‘Our members are responsible, low impact Scottish fishermen, operating from North Berwick around the Scottish coastline to the Clyde.
‘It is vital that Scottish fishermen have a strong voice where it matters and by joining LIFE we stand with fishermen across Europe who face the same challenges as us.’
Jerry Percy, executive director of LIFE, said the organisation is ‘delighted’ that SCFF has joined its ranks.
‘The Scots have a passion and tradition for fishing that can lend strength to the fishermen who are now beginning to speak up with one voice.
‘With the support of many of Scotland’s creelers and divers, there is now a growing number of active smaller scale fishermen pushing for reform.
‘Fishermen across Europe have suffered from industry consolidation, bloated supply chains, perverse subsidies and unfair distribution of quota, and meanwhile our coastal fishing communities struggle to get full value from their hard earned catch.
‘Together we can push for measures to fundamentally rebalance the industry, ensure that we promote the interests of our active, low impact fishermen and in so doing better respect the resource that we all depend on.’
Picture: Members of the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Association with Scottish fisheries minister Richard Lochhead