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Organisations Voice CFP Expectations

EU - With the European Commission (EC) set to reveal its plans tomorrow for a new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), many enviromental and fishery groups are having their last minute say on what they expect from the reform.

The Scottish Fisherman's Federation (SFF) is warning that the new CFP proposal must not turn into a wasted opportunity.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, commented: Over the past few years the SFF has been lobbying hard to ensure the reform of the CFP is meaningful and contains real and practical measures that ensures our fisheries are much more effectively and efficiently managed. There is still the real fear that the reform will end up as a wasted opportunity and that would be a tragedy.

The SFF is looking for greater regional control in the way fisheries are managed and, although it agrees with a discard reduction, Mr Armstrong stated that, "The EC should at the very least pull back from its totally impracticable proposal to ban discards and instead give a new regional dimension to discard management.

The SFF will also be looking for assurances that the new CFP does not contain any measures that could threaten the way current fishing rights are allocated and that Scottish fishermen will always have access to stocks based on their historical fishing rights.

Also commenting, ahead of the CFP reform announcement, is WWF Scotland.

WWF Scotlands Marine Policy Officer, Dr Mireille Thom, commented: "We need to seize this rare opportunity to fix Europes broken fisheries system and help deliver healthy fish stocks and thriving coastal communities. To put right the damage we need to see the introduction of long-term management plans, greater local participation and an urgent reduction of harmful by-catch and wasteful discards."

"We know the majority of the public want to be able to buy fish from sustainable sources and that they support meaningful reform of the CFP. In Scotland we are working with partners in government, industry and other NGOs to ensure that this reform will be the one that will turn things around for the marine environment, fishing communities and consumers.

WWF Scotland stated three main changes it expects to see: Sustainable management, effective regionalisation and fair fishing abroad.

Although the WWF understands that the Commission will not include a clear commitment to all EU vessels operating according to CFP principles wherever they fish, the WWF hope that vessels should fish according to the same CFP principles as those applied to all fisheries in EU waters.

WWF also think that the EU should show leadership in regional fisheries management organisations and advocate the highest sustainability standards possible in these fora.

Seafish, the authority on seafood, is hoping the UK seafood industry will have flexibility to operate sustainably and profitably within the EC's plans for a new CFP.

Head of Environment, Philip MacMullen, said the reform of the CFP creates a "real opportunity for positive change" in the management of EU fisheries, as long as the legislation allows for flexibility within its provisions.

Talking about the proposed discard ban, Mr MacMullen continued: "The issue of discards shows clearly how a 'one size fits all' solution does not work. Even within the same fishery, the level of discards can vary by moving to slightly different grounds."

"We believe that the CFP reform should concentrate on high level goals and not be over prescriptive with solutions. We advocate management responsibilities being inclusive, encouraging fishermen to propose their own ideas and become custodians of the sea."

"Discards, like the move to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) should involve a series of progressive targets evaluated against an ecological risk assessment. Multiannual management plans should be seeking to achieve MSY for the whole ecosystem, not individual species. If the system isn't favouring certain species then there's no point setting hard targets for their stock growth; we have to go at nature's own pace."

the Fish Site Editor

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