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Scottish Fisheries Face Challenges

UK - The year ahead will be tough for Scotland's fishermen as the number of days at sea will be cut further.

Scottish fishing minister, Richard Lochhead, described talks he had with EU commissioner Joe Borg this morning (Monday) as helpful, despite confirmation that days at sea will be cut by a further 10 per cent next year.

Shetland Marine reports that Mr Lochhead was in Brussels yesterday to keep the door open for talks between the European Commission and Scotland.

A recent report, commissioned by the Scottish National Party (SNP) government, had shown that any further in days at sea could prove financially disastrous for the fleet.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Lochhead said: "Mr Borg made clear that the commission would not re-open the Cod Recovery Plan, with the result that the number of days at sea allocated to Scotland would be cut by a further 10 per cent.

"At the same time, he acknowledged that the commission would need to follow the development of quota and effort allocations to ensure that they were kept in line with each other. This debate will no doubt continue over the coming weeks.

"I did seek the commission's agreement to work with Scotland to ensure that we can build on our pioneering Conservation Credits Scheme, whereby the fleet can buy back any loss of days through adopting certain conservation measures to protect cod.

"Commissioner Borg explained he was willing to listen to new ideas from Scotland and the onus is now on Scotland, with the support of the UK Government, to present the case."

Both men agreed that there was a pressing need to significantly reduce discards.

Mr Lochhead added: "I suggested that installing CCTV might enable us to buy back the time at sea required to avoid cod and to fish further afield than might otherwise be possible. And this would help us move towards landing everything that is caught in a mixed fishery.

"New efforts restrictions, compounded by low fish prices as a result of the recession, have made this year very tough for Scots fishermen.

"Next year looks like being no easier unless we take some radical steps to change fisheries management and attract better income from the top-quality fish we land.

"In the coming weeks and months, the Scottish Government will work with the industry to achieve a sustainable and profitable sector."

the Fish Site Editor

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