Action plan for prawns and whitefish

Fishermen will be offered help to deal with the current pressures facing the industry through an action plan unveiled last weeki.

Prawn and white fish fishermen in Scotland have faced tough conditions in recent years with high fuel prices, export markets under pressure and the EU’s Cod Recovery Plan, having a detrimental effect.

The dramatic fall in the availability of prawns has also caused the fleet to experience exceptionally hard times so far this year.

The five-point action plan includes the following measures underpinned by up to £6 million in funding:

* The establishment of a £3 million hardship fund for fishermen who may be facing exceptional stresses on their viability.

* An invitation to vessels to trial a discard-free prawn fishery this year by fishing with gears that eliminate whitefish by-catch. These vessels will have additional time at sea to catch their quotas where necessary, and we will look to secure, through European funding, a guaranteed income as they adapt to new ways of working.

It also encompasses:

* Alternative support for vessels not joining the discard free trial, with help to develop new fishing gears and measures to achieve the discard reduction targets;

* Removing, where possible, barriers that stop fishermen diversifying into alternative sustainable fisheries.

* Measures (and potentially additional funding) to promote our seafood sector and develop a Scottish brand to support the onshore sector in maximising economic growth.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead, who made the announcement as he visited the North Atlantic Fisheries College in Shetland, said: “The fishing industry is very important to Scotland’s economy and contributed £500 million last year. It is the lifeblood of many local communities supporting over 5,000 coastal jobs across Scotland including many here in Shetland. The Scottish Government wants to support our fishing industry and their communities as they seek to overcome short-term challenges.

“As we work together to implement this action plan, we will also discuss what further steps can be taken by industry and Government to strengthen the resilience and adaptability of businesses in the fishing industries.”