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Victory For Clyde Fishermen


SCOTLAND, UK - The Clyde Fishermens Association (CFA) has won its three-year battle with the European Commission over an administrative mistake on the number of days that West of Scotland fishing vessels could put to sea in 2007.

The error by the EC resulted in the official sanction of a greater cut than there should have been in the number of days that West coast fishing vessels were allowed to fish in that year.

Welcoming the decision by the European Ombudsman to support the CFA’s complaint, Patrick Stewart of the Association said the ruling brought into question the objectivity of the EC in its role as a fisheries manager.

The CFA had vigorously contended that the EC had made a mistake in its recommendation for the days-at-sea allocation for 2007 and despite persistent pressure from the Association, the Commission not only repeatedly rejected the allegation but also attempted to justify the version to which it had put its name. The EC’s error was also completely missed by the Council of Ministers, which has a responsibility to ensure, in the interests of fishermen, that the work of the Commission is correct.

But now the European Ombudsman has ruled in favour of the CFA by concluding that the EC was in fact guilty of maladministration. In his summing up, the Ombudsman said that the Commission had also ‘missed a good opportunity’ to acknowledge that a mistake had been made.

Fortunately, the extra cut in days for the West coast in 2007 never actually materialised due to the mitigating impact of a number of complex fisheries management measures implemented in that year.

Patrick Stewart, lately retired as CFA secretary, who has pursued the case with dogged determination for the last three years, said: “During this dispute, the EC went to inordinate lengths to proclaim, in spite of the compelling evidence to the contrary, that not only could it not have made a mistake but that the Clyde Fishermen’s Association had entirely misdirected itself as to how these complex matters were arranged.

“But despite these constant denials, the CFA did not give up. The Ombudsman has now demonstrated that the Commission was wrong. The fact that the Commission felt unable to apologise and admit it made a mistake shows an astonishing lack of maturity and calls into question its suitability as an organisation to manage fisheries objectively.”