Speaking before the morning event entitled 'Towards Sustainable Fishing', Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive said: "It is unfortunate that the invitation letter to this event sets the tone of the debate by issuing a black warning about the world threat of overfishing.
"The use of exclusively negative quotations from global statistics will cause two things to happen: Firstly, the public will be misled into thinking that the description applies to all of UK's fisheries - which it most certainly does not. Secondly, it gives the appearance that the Government is largely insulated from its responsibility to actively promote the sustainable harvesting of seafood.
"The Government has a clear responsibility to ensure stewardship of the seas; however, it has an equal responsibility to ensure that the maximum yield from this wonderful and renewable natural resource is taken sustainably. The two are not mutually exclusive. Food security, the well-being of coastal communities, and an historic UK industry that is very much part of our national fabric depend on a proper balance being struck.
"I issue a challenge to the government to recognise the progress on sustainable fishing that has been made by the industry itself and to focus on ensuring that the harvesting of fish from the sea is seen as a national priority."
Some of the key points the SFF will highlight to the Minister are:
- All Scottish vessels are in the Scottish Government's conservation credits scheme, which offers fishermen incentives for fishing in a more sustainable and responsible way.
- Over 50 per cent of all Scottish fisheries by value are currently Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified or are in the full assessment process.
- One in 10 of the world's MSC certified fisheries are Scottish.
- 90 list of Scottish pelagic fisheries are now certified as being sustainably fished.
- 125 Scottish fishing vessels are certified under the Sea Fish Industry Authority's Responsible Fishing Scheme with more currently undergoing assessment.
- In the North Sea, 50 per cent of the main stocks are locked into long-term management plans with further stocks in the process of this happening. Long-term management plans ensure that stocks are fished to a precautionary fishing mortality, ensuring their sustainability over the long-term.