SFF: Scottish fleet close to breaking point

01 Oct 2010

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation will today (1 October) tell EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki that the Scottish industry has made huge strides in ensuring the sustainable harvest of fish and that its efforts must be recognised during the decision-making process for fishing opportunity in 2011.

The SFF is holding talks with Damanaki at a round table meeting in Aberdeen, UK, as part of the North Sea Conference that is being hosted by the Scottish government. The meeting will also include Scottish fisheries minister Richard Lochhead and UK fisheries minister Richard Benyon.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive said a key point the federation wants to make to the commissioner is the huge effort that has been made by the Scottish fleet in ensuring sustainable harvesting.

“The EC must recognise and reward the considerable sacrifice made by our fishermen by easing the current punishing fishing restrictions,” Armstrong said.

“A large number of whitefish and prawn boats are teetering on the brink of viability and many segments of the fleet simply will not survive if there is any further tightening of the screw. For fishermen to have faith in fisheries management they must be rewarded for their efforts. At the moment the fishing industry is enduring increasing restrictions year-after-year despite there being signs of fish stock recovery. The industry can only take so much and the point has now been reached for these restrictions to be eased.”

Also on the agenda at the talks will be the current dispute with Iceland and the Faroes over international mackerel quotas. At a presentation to the European Parliament Fisheries Committee in Strasbourg earlier this week, Ian Gatt of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said that fishermen’s livelihoods are in jeopardy because of the “irresponsible actions” taken by Iceland and the Faroes.

“In Scotland, we fear the very fabric of our fishing communities is at stake if the demands of Iceland and the Faroes are fulfilled,” he said.

“We are fighting for the survival of the few remaining fishing communities in Scotland and it is the same situation for all the other pelagic ports across the European Union. A deal is in everyone’s interest, but not at any price, and we must ensure our heritage and fisheries entitlement is simply not given away.”

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