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Action on Fish Discards

by the Fish Site Editor
09 October 2009, at 1:00am

SCOTLAND - Scottish vessels could be on course to secure valuable additional catch quotas and effort that is actual fishing time according to Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead.

In Aalborg yesterday Scotland's Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead received backing from Denmark, Germany and the UK to press ahead with new measures. If approved they would deliver significant benefits for vessels fitted with CCTV next year, meaning they can land more of what they actually catch.

Mr Lochhead said the proposal would see more responsibility handed to fishermen, providing suitable rewards for their innovations and responsible fishing practices.

An increase in the number of Scottish vessels installing CCTV would mean the collection of more accurate data, bridging the gap between fishermen and scientists.

It follows an initial meeting between the Danish Fisheries Minister and Mr Lochhead earlier this year. The Scottish and Danish Governments have since worked very closely to explore the additional benefits for fleets and the environment of stopping the wasteful discarding of thousands of tonnes of fish.

Mr Lochhead was addressing the Danfish International Conference.

Speaking after signing the joint statement with other countries, he said: "This landmark proposal could prove to be a win win for our hard pressed fishermen and their conservation credentials. It will mean a further shift in focus from a centralised regulatory approach, to one which will provide greater flexibility to reward good fishing practice.

"The collection of more accurate data would undoubtedly lead to better fisheries management of our seas. Fishermen will have the chance of increasing their income whilst at the same time be able to account for all the fish they remove from the sea.

"In return they will receive the reward and incentive of keeping a much larger share of what they currently catch, rather than being forced to dump it into the sea.

"Our successful CCTV pilot was launched in August. It's very encouraging that other countries are asking for this to be a formal part of options available to them in 2010. I believe it could help us move to catch quotas and define effort as actual fishing time rather than steaming effort at sea

. "CCTV on fishing vessels provides valuable new research and data, increasing our evidence base for scientists. It can help narrow the perceived gap in science advice and what fishermen see in reality.

"We are keen to work closely with our fishermen on the important details of such a scheme, and explore the potential to apply them during 2010 and beyond."

A Scottish CCTV pilot launched in August 2009 involving seven vessels is already producing positive results. This type of initiative rewards management measures, whilst at the same time cutting discards.

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Chief Executive Bertie Armstrong said: "The fishing industry is rightly wary of dramatic or instant solutions to any problem. As with all new control measures, a careful consideration of all the consequences is vital. It does not have to take long - but it really has to happen – if those who will live with the measures are to support it.

"The results of the trial starting in August must be made available and an analysis of the short and long term advantages and disadvantages must be done - only then can the industry come to an informed view. This has yet to happen - government must accept that the best control arrangements are those which have the support of those to whom they apply."

the Fish Site Editor