Scots angered by quota cut proposals

15 Nov 2010

The European Commission’s proposals for more quota cuts in 2011 for some of Scotland’s key commercial species are a devastating blow for an industry already struggling for survival and underline the need for urgent change in the way fisheries are managed, according to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF).

The SFF also expressed anger that the new proposals – the first to be released under the stewardship of EC fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki – were issued to the media before the fishing industry had sight of them, with Bertie Armstrong chief executive of the SFF describing the method of release as a “study in arrogance” that ignores the fact that the proposals are of huge concern to fishermen and threaten their livelihoods.

Headline figures for 2011 include proposed cuts for prawns (Nephrops) – a mainstay species for the Scottish fleet – a 9% cut for the North Sea and 15% reduction on the west coast of Scotland. West coast haddock and cod are facing cuts of 25% and 50% respectively.

The situation is less clear for shared stocks with Norway – such as North Sea cod and haddock – which will be decided at a later date, although the EC does appear to indicate that North Sea cod will be in line for further restrictions.

Just recently, North Sea haddock was independently certified by the Marine Stewardship as being a well-managed and sustainable fishery.

Armstrong said : “The European Commission’s proposals for fish catching opportunity for 2011 – the first on new commissioner Maria Damanaki’s watch - which will affect the Scottish fleet, have been released to the press, which shows that the principle adopted by the last Commissioner of dialogue and transparency with stakeholders – known as ‘frontloading’ has been abandoned. The fishing industry has been left to find out from the media what next year’s opportunity will be and this is totally unacceptable.

“The list of proposals – reductions across the list of stocks covered - is only part of the picture for the Scottish fleet and [this] week will see the EU negotiate on our behalf for seven important shared stocks, including North Sea cod, but the approach that will be taken by the Commission has been telegraphed clearly and we can expect little comfort.

“There is now a large gulf between the industry and the Commission on the development of fisheries management and this does not bode well for the future. The Commission press release to the media includes a description of the process whereby fishing opportunity is set and which states that scientific evidence results in the proposals for ‘Total Allowable Catches’. In the absence of other information, the public will conclude that the process is fit for purpose. This is simply not the case – which is why the revision of the Common Fisheries Policy is underway and why change is so urgently required.

“The press descriptions put out with the first proposals and the method of release are a study in arrogance. The Scottish industry understands with the utmost clarity that the amount of fish in the sea is limited. It also understands that the current methods of managing fisheries are a recipe for discarding. No account has been taken in any of these proposals of the innovation and sacrifices made by the Scottish fleet in pursuit of sensible management. This simply must change.”

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Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF)

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