12 September 2012
An amendment proposed by the European Commission on the long-term management plan for cod could bring a degree of relief to Scotland’s hard-pressed fishermen next year if the measures are implemented sensibly, says the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.
The SFF has been strongly campaigning for a revision of the existing plan, which is crippling the Scottish fleet through automatic annual cuts in quota and the number of days that vessels are allowed to fish. But now the EC has tabled an amendment that proposes more flexibility in the way the plan is implemented so as to avoid these automatic cuts in cases lacking certain scientific data.
Also, incentives are being proposed to member states to make their fishermen reduce the discarding of unwanted fish. For example, in fisheries where all catches are counted against quotas, the vessels participating in anti-discard trials should be exempt from effort control.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF said: “The current cod plan is the epitome of bad fisheries management and has put huge strain on Scottish fleet for little conservation gain.
“We believe that some of these amendments are direct recognition of the pioneering role the Scottish fleet has played in stock conservation and discard reduction in recent years by developing and adopting our own effective management measures that have included technical alterations to gear and real-time fishing closures.
“Only recently our prawn fishermen and netmakers have developed trawls that have reduced fish discards by up to 70 per cent. This response from the industry has not been made without considerable pain and effort, but rather than constantly complain and snipe from the side-lines as some of the environmental lobby like to do, we have rolled up our sleeves and delivered effective conservation.
“The devil will be in the detail of these new amendment proposals from the EC, but initial signs suggest that they are a welcome move in the right direction.”
Bertie Armstrong, Chief executive, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Tel: 01224 646944
Keith Broomfield, Tel: 01259 742575, M: 07890 781151