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Outrage At Commissions Haddock Position

by the Fish Site Editor
09 August 2011, at 1:00am

SCOTLAND - The Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA) has reacted angrily to the content of a letter sent to Struan Stevenson, MEP, from Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, on the subject of West of Scotland haddock.

According to SWFPA, Mr Stevenson wrote to Commissioner Damanaki on the 15 July saying it was imperative she become familiar with the situation of west coast haddock, urging her to intervene so that an appropriate level of opportunity could be set for 2012.

Both ICES (International Council for Exploration of the Seas) and STECF (Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for fisheries) the Commissions own advisory body, both state that applying the MSF framework for 2012, three years ahead of schedule, would deliver a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in 2012 of 10,200t a fourfold increase from the current TAC of 2005t.

They also both mention that the current catch composition rules (30 per cent cod, haddock and whiting) which were applied in 2009 should be removed.

There is obviously thinking within the Commission that applying a 25 per cent TAC constraint and setting a corresponding TAC of 2505t is the correct route; in the Commissioners response to Mr Stevenson she states: I would therefore support a proposal for an increase in the TAC for 2012 although I could not agree to the four-fold increase that would be implied by setting a TAC in 2012 that corresponds to the MSY fishing mortality.

SWFPA Chief Executive Mike Park said: The Commissioners response to Mr Stevenson is beyond belief. My members have endured relentless discourse from the Commission and various Commissioners of the need to reduce fishing pressure to MSY levels."

"Hugh Fernley Whiitingstall has pleaded with the Commissioner to solve the problem of regulatory discards, and she has agreed that we should do all we can, yet here we have an opportunity to set a level of catch that aligns to the highest principles (MSY), and she believes it is appropriate to set the TAC at an artificially lower level, with the result that discards will increase."

"If the Commissioner is truly committed to resolving the issue of discards, including regulatory discards, then she needs to understand that setting artificially low TACs in a mixed fishery does nothing other than lead to an increase in the level of discards."

"We therefore have to be clear that failing to set the appropriate TAC for area via haddock in 2012 is a declaration to the public at large that as far as the Commission is concerned its business as usual. The banner may say we want to ban discards but if we truly want to solve the problem then it has to start here.

SWFPA will be writing to the Commissioner to arrange a meeting.

the Fish Site Editor