THE Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) is keen to impress on the Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (FMAC) that ways must be found to ensure that Scotland’s fishing fleet has enough fishing days in 2012 to remain viable.
The Group, which is meeting in Edinburgh tomorrow, is a cross-sector body comprising fishermen’s groups, government officials, scientists, NGOs and other stakeholders, and helps to guide fisheries management policy in Scotland. Top of the agenda at tomorrow’s meeting will be the identification of mechanisms and arrangements that will ensure Scotland’s fishing fleet can maximise its potential number of fishing days, following the EC December Fish Council that imposed additional effort cuts for 2012.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF said: “Having failed to meet our principal objective at the last EC Fish Council to freeze the annual cuts in fishing days, our priority now has to be to make the best of a bad situation and identify ways that will maximise the fleet’s fishing potential under the current constraints.
“It is indeed the ultimate paradox that the Scottish industry had taken the lead in managing its own days at sea and introduced several conservation-led incentives for fishermen to gain extra days, only to be punished with further cuts in effort. Now, there is a real question mark whether there are enough days left for our fleet to catch our quotas, which in turn threatens relative stability and our future quota rights.
“The Scottish industry is determined to play its part by working closely and co-operatively with government and other relevant organisations to examine all kinds of technical and other fisheries management measures within the current regulatory framework that will enable our fishing fleet to reach a reasonable level of fishing days.
“The Scottish fleet is facing an incredibly difficult year, and it is vital that both Scottish and UK Ministers make fishing a top economic priority for support and growth, which will include the application of a common-sense approach to fisheries management.”