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Sustainability Issues Raised with Minister

SCOTLAND - Fishermen on the West Coast of Scotland have highlighted concerns over unfair management measures to Scottish Fisheries Minister.

In a meeting in Mallaig between West coast fishermen and Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead, which was organised by Dave Thompson MSP, the questions of sustainable harvesting of squid and scallops and the causes of discards of dogfish were raised.

Mallaig and North-West Fishermen’s Association secretary John Hermse, said: “We had a full and frank meeting with the Minister which we used to highlight the serious problems currently facing the West coast fishing industry.

“One of the biggest concerns raised was the real lack of fishing opportunity available due to the ‘emergency’ management measures that have been in place since 2009. These totally unwarranted measures unfairly preclude our fishermen from diversifying into the sustainable harvesting of other species such as squid and queen scallops, and causes discards of dogfish.

“We also asked the Minister for Scottish Government support to initiate research and sea-going trials into the viability of a West coast squid fishery. It is a high value species, which we believe has real potential as a local fishery.

“The meeting also discussed creel management – including the limitation on the number of pots fishermen can set - and a Government report on this is due to be released shortly.

“Marketing was a key issue at the talks and we welcomed the Minister’s recognition that there is still plenty of scope to create a wider market for Scottish caught prawns. We told the Minister that much more could be done to generate positive marketing messages on the vast array of quality seafood that is harvested around our shores and urged him to consider committing more resources towards this.

“The issue of offshore renewable energy was also on the agenda. We are supportive of marine renewable energy projects – but not if they displace fishermen from their traditional fishing grounds.”

Bertie Armstrong, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive, said: “The problems facing the West coast fishing industry are particularly acute. The market for prawns, crab and lobster is not particularly strong because of the recession and the scallop sector is facing the continual threat of being displaced from traditional fishing grounds because of the rapid growth in Marine Protected Areas.”

the Fish Site Editor

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