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SFF Challenges Government To Save Industry

SCOTLAND, UK - The Scottish Fishermen Federation (SFF) has issued a stark warning to the new incoming UK Government and the current Scottish Government that the very survival of the fishing industry is at stake unless urgent remedial action is taken otherwise large sections of the fleet will be forced out of business.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, says the overwhelming message from fishermen on the quayside is that much of the fleet is fighting for survival under a blanket of unbearably restrictive management measures, which has pushed many in the industry to the brink of breaking point.

“For an alarmingly wide proportion of the industry just now, survival is the key issue,” he said. “The single most important issue for a fisherman is whether his boat or business survives and makes a profit. If that doesn’t happen, then nothing else matters.

“A fisherman will try to make the best of his opportunities, but survival depends on fishing opportunity and that lies in the hands of fisheries managers. Whilst the health and abundance of stocks inescapably govern that opportunity, how it is negotiated and managed is in the hands of the Commission in Brussels and fisheries managers in the UK and Scottish Governments. In the first instance, we depend on London and Edinburgh to act in the best interests of the industry.

“And here is the challenge for the new UK Government and for the current Scottish Government. Given the way that life in the industry has unfolded in the first quarter of 2010, opinion at the quayside is saying in the strongest possible terms that much, much more needs to be done - and done now. The recovery of stocks and their abundance on the fishing grounds are not matched by the management measures constraining the fleet.

“Every sector of the industry has its own set of difficulties, but we must look together, government and industry, at what can be done immediately to make the best of what opportunities we have and can claim. For the whitefish fleet, effort control – days at sea – and quota are both critically tight. The details of effort control are in the hands of the home governments and must be addressed again in the light of experience so far this year.

“For the short and medium term, sustainability and selectivity projects abound and some of these will form part of the solution. For the immediate future, now that the election with its inevitable diversion and distortion is past, the imperative for government is to listen carefully to the noise from fishermen on the quayside and reinvigorate their efforts to make a difference right now.”

the Fish Site Editor

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