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UK Attacked for Missing Fisheries' Talks

UK - UK authorities have come under fire for missing talks on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy.

SNP MEP and Party President Ian Hudghton said he was surprised and disappointed at the UK's failure to send a representative to the EU talks.

The criticism followed the UK's absence from key talks in Brussels this week between MEPs and representatives of Member State Parliaments.

The discussions held at the European Parliament were intended to hammer out the main points to be decided in reforming the Common Fisheries Policy with new legislation expected to be put forward before Summer 2011.

Mr Hudghton said: "I counted representatives of nineteen member state parliaments at this key meeting, including landlocked Slovakia!

"I know that many people in Scotland will share my anger and disappointment that the UK couldn't be bothered to turn up for what was an important exchange of views. It's further proof that London does not and will not stand up for Scotland's interests in Europe."

The SNP MEP addressed the meeting in his capacity as a member of the European Parliament's Committee on Fisheries. Mr Hudghton was critical of some initial proposals that could lead to fishing rights being traded, and called for any reform to allow as much freedom as possible for the fishing nations themselves to decide on fisheries conservation and management.

Mr Hudghton said: "I represent the fishing nation of Scotland, which is home to 70 per cent of the UK's fishing industry. Scottish waters comprise almost 20 per cent of European Union seas. Like me, colleagues may be a little surprised to find that there is no 'National' Parliament representing us at today's Hearing.

"You may be assuming that the recent UK General Election has distracted attention from this event, but the reality is over many years of experience, successive UK Governments and Parliaments have failed to give fisheries policy due priority in European discussions such as these.

"I hope that the Commission will pay heed to direct representations from the Scottish Government. It is clear that there is widespread demand for devolved management of fisheries - but a wide range of views as to how much should be devolved to whom.

"There are a wide range of views again today about the prospect of tradeable fishing rights. I am extremely sceptical and believe that even a limited system of Individual Trading Rights if proposed by Brussels will quickly lead to international tradeability and therefore we should leave such decisions to be taken by fishing nations themselves.

"I say to the Commission, why not propose a genuinely zonal management regime, by sea basin, and allow fishing nations who have rights in each of our seas to determine the conservation and management rules which best suit the diversity which exists.

"Returning real power to Europe's fishing nations so that those who have most to gain from successful conservation will ensure that management of fisheries in the future has a chance of succeeding - and making up for the years of failure under the Common Fisheries Policy."

the Fish Site Editor

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