In particular, this must relate to the EC plan to ban discards in European fisheries, which will be phased in over the next few years.
“It is essential that we bridge the gap between the political decision to ban discards and the practical matter of how that will impact upon the viability of securing an essential source of food,” Mr Armstrong will tell the forum, which is titled: Next Steps for UK fishing – consumer attitudes, sustainability and implementing the Common Fisheries Policy.
“There needs to be a common-sense and flexible approach to the way that discards are managed, because a complete elimination of discards is simply not practicable in the short-term, or indeed necessary. It is much more important to focus policy on sustainable fishing whilst reducing fish mortality at the same time. Indeed, over the last 10 years or so fishing pressure in the north-east Atlantic has dramatically declined and most stocks are now increasing in size – and continuing to do so at a satisfactory rate.
“The key is to continue with this downward trend in discards whilst at the same time ensuring that fishermen are able to operate their businesses in a viable manner, and not over-burdened with ill thought-out regulation.”
Meanwhile, Mr Armstrong will also warn that international co-operation in fisheries is essential in the north-east Atlantic if there is to be a sustainable future. Referring to the overfishing by Iceland and the Faroes of mackerel, and the Faroese of herring, he will point out that realism and responsibility must be the hallmark of 21st fisheries management.
“It is simply unacceptable for some nations to unilaterally increase their quotas for precious migratory stocks such as mackerel and herring in pursuit of their own self-interest and with little regard to sustainability of the stocks or the other countries who have responsibly managed these fisheries. Co-operation and dialogue are the only way that such fisheries can be managed and it is astonishing in this modern era that there are still some countries that fail to recognise that fundamental fact.”