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Scottish Fishing Will Ensure Sustainable Future

Health Welfare Sustainability +6 more

SCOTLAND, UK - The Scottish fishing industry is keen to further develop its already strong relationships with marine scientists to ensure that there is as much data as possible about the health of our fish stocks so as to ensure the implementation of effective management plans to ensure a sustainable future.

This was one of the key messages delivered by Ross Dougal, vice-president of the Scottish Fishermens Federation, speaking to guests at the SFFs annual dinner in Edinburgh on Thursday night (6 October).

He told the event, which was attended by fisheries minister Richard Lochhead and other leading industry figures, that fishermen had a huge amount to offer the scientific community in terms of providing better catch data and other information on fish stocks.

We must seize the opportunity to provide the data for more real-time science even if on occasion this leads to quota reduction, he said.

The health of our stocks and the sustainability of our fisheries is of fundamental importance to fishermen and it is essential that we forge even closer relationships with scientists so as to have the most accurate information flow as possible. If used properly, such information will lead to development of much more effective management plans for our fisheries.

Such co-operation is now more pressing then ever, added Mr Dougal, given that the new proposals for the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy make a strong plea for better data. Already, some quota proposals from the EC for 2012 are calling for automatic cuts of between 15 and 25 per cent because of the lack of data, rather than being based on the true state of the stocks.

Turning to the ongoing deadlock with Iceland and the Faroes over mackerel catches, Mr Dougal said both countries must now both move to seek a resolution at talks later this month before irreparable harm is done to the precious mackerel stock.

The decisions by Iceland and the Faroes to significantly increase already grossly over-inflated unilateral quotas is the height of irresponsibility and could do real damage to a stock that has been sustainably harvested and carefully looked after by the Scottish fleet."

It is vital for the future of the Scottish mackerel sector that there is restoration of sensible and responsible mackerel management arrangements in the north-east Atlantic so as to secure the long-term sustainable future of the stock. However, whilst reaching a deal is important, it must not be done so at any cost and it needs to ensure that Scotlands traditional mackerel catching rights are not compromised.

Meanwhile, despite all the difficulties being endured by the Scots fishing industry, Mr Dougal said he was optimistic about the future, given that our fish and shellfish are much sought after around the world.

Our seafood is of the highest quality, taste great and is healthy to eat. Provided the right management regime is put in place under the new CFP, I believe that the Scottish fishing industry has a great future ahead of it, harvesting a marvellous and sustainable resource that is in huge demand from consumers around the world.