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Danger of Inappropriate Regulation Following CFP Talks, Warns SFF

14 June 2012, at 1:00am

SCOTLAND, UK - Yesterdays EU Council fish talks in Luxembourg on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is the start of a crucially important process that will decide upon the future direction of our fisheries, the Scottish Fishermens Federation commented.

According to Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, the length of the talks and the feedback received suggest that the discussions were at some stages vexed, but the general direction of the process is now underway in a complicated arrangement that will also have be taken before the European Parliament as part of the new co-decision making regime.

We believe that some progress has been made on regionalisation, which is of vital importance for there to be effective fisheries management in the future, he said.

However, the biggest area of discussion at yesterdays Council was discards, where it looks like a graduated approach to banning the practice has been put forward, which would see a plan in place for herring and other pelagic species in early 2014, and all other species between 2015 and 2018.

It is not possible to reduce or eliminate discards simply by putting a number on a page in any new regulations. Instead such aspirations can only be achieved through the use of practical management measures, which is why proper and sensible regional management is so important.

Already this year, our prawn fishermen have pioneered trawls that can reduce discards by up to 70 per cent, and it is this practical approach to fisheries management that needs to be encouraged. The issue that really needs to be addressed is achieving the correct balance between abundance of fish in the sea and catching opportunity a point the EC still seems unable to grasp. We all abhor discards, but reducing or even eliminating discards in complex mixed fisheries can only be achieved by practical management on a regional scale.

Other issues discussed last night included utilising the principle of maximum sustainable yield in fisheries, which has widespread support, although the sheer complexity of the issue has meant that no decision should be taken as yet on timescale or implementation.

Mr Armstrong said: The process of CFP reform is now underway and the over-riding requirement is that we dont end up with regulations that simply dont work in the effort to produce a radically different management regime.

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