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SFF Outlines Key Priorities For Action

Economics +1 more

SCOTLAND, UK - The Scottish Fishermens Federation has underlined its key action priorities for fishing for the rest of this year and has vowed to focus every effort in ensuring that a fair deal is achieved for the industry.

A meeting of the SFF’s executive committee in Shetland at the end of last week (24-25 June) focused on an action plan for the coming months against the background of an incredibly difficult set of circumstances for the industry.

One of the most pressing issues is the current effort control (days-at-sea) regime that is affecting the whitefish and prawn sectors, with many boats finding it almost impossible to make a living under the extremely tight management restrictions.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: “This sector of the industry has made almost superhuman sacrifices in adopting a range of conservation measures so as to help protect stocks and gain extra fishing days, but the overwhelming message from the quayside is that availability of days has now been cut down to the bone and the fleet cannot sustain this pressure for any longer.

“Now is the time for the government to honour its half of the partnership with the industry and press for practical change to the source of the days at sea difficulties, which is the long term management plan for cod. Everyone is agreed on the management objective, but this must - and can - be achieved in a way that does not crucify the industry.

“We will get the bulk of this year's fisheries science this week, which will set the scene for the discussion of the details of the management regime for 2011.”

Mackerel is another area of real concern, with the Faroe Islands refusing to sign up to a coastal states agreement for the management of the stock, with both the Faroese and Iceland threatening to unilaterally increase their mackerel quotas.

Mr Armstrong said: “Mackerel is a vitally important fishery for Scotland and we condemn any attempt by the Faroes or Iceland to unjustifiably increase their quotas, which could threaten the health of the stock. We will continue to make representations at the highest level to try and ensure a sensible agreement on mackerel is finally reached."

Crab, lobster and scallop fisheries also face serious difficulties that need addressed. Other priority areas for the Federation include the impact of new management measures on the Scottish west coast that involves a long-term management plan for haddock, as well as the ongoing reform process of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Mr Armstrong added: “Each sector of the industry has its own set of serious challenges this year. The economy is undergoing fragile recovery after the recession but there is still enough uncertainty to make the market for fishing anything but secure, which makes the industry very vulnerable to clumsy changes in the management regime for catching opportunity.”