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SNP President Calls for End of EU Fisheries Role

by 5m Editor
22 April 2009, at 1:00am

EU - Scottish National Party (SNP) President Ian Hudghton MEP has called for the return of fisheries management powers to Europe's fishing nations and an ending of the EU's central role in fisheries decision making.

The call comes on the day the European Commission is expected to approve a paper aimed at kick-starting the debate on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy. Mr Hudghton’s call was supported by SNP colleagues in the Scottish and UK Parliaments.

The Commission is expected to acknowledge that the CFP has failed to deliver a sustainable fishing industry and is calling for every aspect of fisheries policy to be reviewed.

Ian Hudghton MEP commented: "I welcome the fact that the Commission has finally acknowledged that the CFP has been an unmitigated disaster. In its quarter-century history, we have seen once proud fishing communities fall into decline whilst key decisions on stock management are taken in late night meetings in Brussels.

"The Commission has stated that no aspect of the CFP should go untouched in the discussions on fisheries reform. I agree and believe that the fiction that centralised control of fishing is a fundamental part of the EU must be shown for what it is.

"The problems with the CFP began when historic rights were taken away from Europe's coastal nations and powers were transferred to the centre. It is now time to reverse that process and return these powers to individual nations working in cooperation on a regional basis.

"A well managed fishing industry should and does have a bright and sustainable future. Scotland continues to have some of the best fisheries resources in Europe and the management of those resources should be brought closer to Scotland's fishing communities.

"In the 1970s, the Conservative government said that the fishing industry was 'expendable'. In subsequent decades successive Labour and Tory governments concurred with this view by signing us up to the CFP. "This wholesale review of European fisheries finally gives us the opportunity to redress the balance - and return the powers to where it matters."

SNP Westminster Fisheries spokesperson, Angus MacNeil MP, said:

"The CFP has been a disaster for Scotland and I am glad that the Commission have recognised some of the problems that the SNP has been highlighting for years.

"It is a farce that 27 Member States, many of which are landlocked, micromanage our vital fisheries from Brussels. It is vital to return control over the sector to ensure a sustainable future for the industry and our coastal communities.

"Successive Labour and Tory government failure to stand up for our fishing industry in Europe has been a disgrace. Since 2007 the Scottish Government has made a huge and positive difference to the fishing industry. Richard Lochhead and his SNP colleagues take every opportunity to stand up for Scotland's vital fishing interests but they can only do so much whilst fishing policy remains largely in the control of Brussels and London.

"The CFP has failed to protect either our coastal communities or the marine environment. If we look to the north of Scotland many of our European neighbours operate successfully outside its scope. Our fishing communities deserve better.

"This root and branch review is an important opportunity to build a sound management policy and sustainable future for fishing. I hope that everyone will take the opportunity to take part in this debate."

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands David Thompson welcomed the new approach to fisheries under the SNP Government;

"In the last two years the Scottish Government has shown we have what it takes to make a positive difference with real achievements for Scotland’s fishing communities. It is clear that ending centralised European control over the sector is crucial for the future of the industry and our coastal communities."

5m Editor