SFF: Concern over CFP reform proposals

“We are dismayed at the proposal to phase out discarding,” said Bertie Armstrong. Credit: Wolcott Henry 2005/Marine Photobank “We are dismayed at the proposal to phase out discarding,” said Bertie Armstrong. Credit: Wolcott Henry 2005/Marine Photobank

Responding to the publication by the European Commission of proposals to reform the Common Fisheries Policy, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said:

“Whilst there are some elements in the proposals that are a step in the right direction, there are other parts that are extremely worrying and could pose a serious threat to the future prospects of the Scottish fishing fleet.

“Indeed, the EC’s own impact assessment of the current proposals if they were implemented in their unmodified form is that they would result in a 20% downturn in the size of the Scottish fishing fleet and numbers of people employed in the industry – that is completely unacceptable and is why it is essential that some elements of these proposals must be revised over the coming months.

“We are also dismayed at the proposal to phase out discarding. Scottish fishermen abhor discarding, but in the complex mixed fisheries that our fleet operates in it is totally impracticable to ban discards altogether.

“Scottish fishermen have been making huge strides in reducing the amount of fish discarded in recent years by adopting conservation initiatives such as closed fishing areas and more selective fishing gear. Such a sensible strategy is working and needs to be further developed, and we will be arguing strongly that this is the most sensible and practical path to take.

“We do, however, welcome the move towards greater regional control of fisheries but the proposals are vague at this stage and it is essential that these measures are robust and provide the opportunity for meaningful management on a local scale.

“There is a huge amount of work to be done in the coming months to ensure that the most detrimental and impracticable parts of the proposals are headed-off.”

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