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SFF Meets With New UK Fisheries Minister


UK - Continuing the relationship launched before the general election, Scottish Fishermens Federation president Alan Coghill and chief executive Bertie Armstrong met with Richard Benyon, the new UK Fisheries Minister, on 1 July.

The aim of the meeting was to forge a new and closer relationship between the Scottish industry representatives and the minister and his team representing the UK as a member state at international negotiations.

A carefully compiled list of concerns was discussed with the minister including the catching opportunity for next year and the automatic impact the long term plan for cod will have on the number of days that vessels can put to sea. International negotiations also topped the agenda with a particular focus on the immediate future and what can be done about the unacceptable behaviour of Iceland and the Faeroes over the catching of mackerel.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermens Association, also had his first meeting with the minister to follow up earlier urgent communications on the problems facing the sector.

Looking at the slightly longer term, the meeting also discussed the need for beneficial reform of the CFP, with emphasis on the achievement of meaningful delegation of responsibility away from central control in Brussels.

Speaking after the meeting, Bertie Armstrong said: We had a warm reception from the new minister and his staff. Having begun his involvement with the industry while in opposition, he has a comprehensive grasp of the difficulties facing us and has expressed an enthusiastic willingness to engage on behalf of the UK fishing industry.

We are encouraged by this and for our part we have laid the foundations of a much stronger relationship that will revolve around open dialogue and effective communication. The immediate challenges facing the industry in all sectors are of such magnitude that there can be no question of the failure of the UK to pull together as a member state on the international stage. This was clearly recognised by Richard Benyon at our meeting.