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Quota Cuts Devastating For Scottish Fleet

SCOTLAND, UK - European Commission proposals for fishing opportunities for 2011 that call for more quota cuts for some of Scotlands key commercial species are a devastating blow for an industry already struggling for survival and underlines the need for urgent change in the way that our fisheries are managed, says the Scottish Fishermens Federation.

The SFF is also expressing real anger that the new proposals – the first to be released under the stewardship of new EC Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki – were issued to the media before the fishing industry had sight of them, with Bertie Armstrong of the Federation describing the method of release as a ‘study in arrogance’ that ignores the fact that the proposals are of huge concern to fishermen and threaten their livelihoods.

Headline figures for 2011 include proposed cuts for prawns (Nephrops) – a mainstay species for the Scottish fleet – of nine per cent cut for the North Sea and 15 per cent on the West coast of Scotland. West coast haddock and cod are facing cuts of 25 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said : “The European Commission’s proposals for fish catching opportunity for 2011 – the first on new Commissioner Maria Damanaki’s watch - which will affect the Scottish fleet, have been released to the press, which shows that the principle adopted by the last Commissioner of dialogue and transparency with stakeholders – known as ‘frontloading’ has been abandoned. The fishing industry has been left to find out from the media what next year’s opportunity will be and this is totally unacceptable.

“The list of proposals – reductions across the list of stocks covered - is only part of the picture for the Scottish fleet and next week will see the EU negotiate on our behalf for seven important shared stocks, including North Sea cod, but the approach that will be taken by the Commission has been telegraphed clearly and we can expect little comfort.

“There is now a large gulf between the industry and the Commission on the development of fisheries management and this does not bode well for the future. The Commission press release to the media includes a description of the process whereby fishing opportunity is set and which states that scientific evidence results in the proposals for ‘Total Allowable Catches’. In the absence of other information, the public will conclude that the process is fit for purpose. This is simply not the case – which is why the revision of the Common Fisheries Policy is underway and why change is so urgently required.

“The press descriptions put out with the first proposals and the method of release are a study in arrogance. The Scottish industry understands with the utmost clarity that the amount of fish in the sea is limited. It also understands that the current methods of managing fisheries are a recipe for discarding. No account has been taken in any of these proposals of the innovation and sacrifices made by the Scottish fleet in pursuit of sensible management. This simply must change.”

the Fish Site Editor

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