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Freeze Further Days-At-Sea Reductions

UK - The Scottish Fishermens Federation is calling for a freeze on any further reductions in the number of days fishing vessels can put to sea and is warning that a significant proportion of the demersal fleet is facing financial collapse unless there is an easing of the current management restrictions.

The SFF says there is compelling evidence from the quayside that many demersal boats are operating on the brink and is urging the Scottish and UK Governments to urgently commission an independent socio-economic report to quantify the level of hardship being experienced by the fleet.

Such a report could be used as vital evidence to persuade the EC to rethink the restrictions currently operated under the long-term management plan for cod that includes automatic year-on-year tightening of the noose on the number of days that vessels can put to sea.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, said: “To put it bluntly, our whitefish fleet can’t take any more and there needs to be an urgent rethink of the rules.

“We have carried out our part of the bargain by co-operating with these regulations but the Scottish and UK Governments must play their part in the partnership by recognising that if such measures are causing unacceptable damage to the fleet, then they must press for modifications to the regulations.

“We are now seeing a recovery in the cod stock and it is essential that the long-term plan for cod is revised so as to ensure that fishing vessels don’t go to the wall.”

The Federation will be placing its concerns before Scottish fisheries minister Richard Lochhead at a meeting in Aberdeen tomorrow (Wednesday 25 August) and in talks in the near future with UK fisheries minister, Richard Benyon.

The SFF believes the commissioning of an independent socio-economic report into the current situation facing the industry is vital as it will help shed light on the provisions that need to be made for the long-term vision and structure of the fleet.

The Federation will also be pressing the Scottish and UK Governments in the run-up to crucial end-of-the-year European negotiations on catching opportunity for 2011 to resist the use of ill-fitting or inappropriate regulation that is currently bedevilling the industry.

In addition, the SFF says there is the need for an immediate review of current catch composition rules on the West coast of Scotland, which prevent prawn boats from diversifying into other fisheries, for example squid.

the Fish Site Editor

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