Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead will be in Brussels this week to make the case for a freeze in effort in all sea areas and ensure that key decisions affecting Scottish quota are made according to the science.
Speaking before leaving for Brussels Mr Lochhead said: “Scottish vessels account for 87 per cent of the UK’s total landings values across the key stocks, so it’s important our views are represented this week. This week’s Fisheries Council in Brussels is absolutely crucial in determining the health of Scotland's fishing industry next year. In 2012 Scottish landings were worth £466 million pounds, demonstrating the value of the industry to Scotland and to our coastal fishing communities in particular.
“This week we will be guided, as ever, by three fundamental principles; first, our approach will be guided by the science on stocks and sustainability; secondly, we will protect the social and economic wellbeing of our industry and the communities who depend on it; and, thirdly, we will act in line with our commitment to achieve discard-free fisheries.
“I will again demand a freeze in the days at sea that are allocated to Scotland. I will make clear to the European Commission that more automatic cuts are unacceptable - otherwise our fleet simply will not have enough time at sea to catch its quotas.
“Scottish fleets are undertaking significantly improved cod avoidance activities which are having a positive effect on stocks. Now would be the worst possible moment to undermine that success by penalising fishermen with reduced time at sea. At last year’s Council we worked hard to garner support for an effort freeze in all sea areas among all the interested Member States. We agreed then, in spite of fierce resistance from the European Commission, that further reductions were not necessary after the four successive cuts previously imposed under the cod plan. Nothing has changed to alter that position and I will be insisting again this year that the UK takes a leading role in fighting for the continuation of the freeze at this year’s Council.
“Mackerel has been added to the agenda this year and I am hopeful that this might create an opportunity to make progress on this long running issue. I have always wanted to see a deal in place to protect the future of what is our most valuable stock but I have been clear that this cannot be done at any cost. Scotland's interests must be at the heart of any deal given that our fishermen, who have sustainably fished the stock for years now, are the EU’s largest mackerel quota holders."
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