Fishermen in Scotland are facing a brave new world in light of the recent agreement by European Fisheries Ministers to ban the wasteful practice of discards.
While Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary responsible for fisheries, was reporting his adulation of the outcome of the Common Fisheries Policy to Scottish Parliament, a meeting of the Scottish fish producer organisations was held in Aberdeen to discuss the implications of the zero discard policy.
The Scottish Association of Fish Producer Organisations (SAFPO) held a wide and varied debate on the new measures and the impact of the regulation on their 500 members.The group highlighted the lack of information that had been forthcomintg from Marine Scotland since the agreement, and in the months before it, and its plans to enter into dialogue to try and ensure efficient and effective implementation of the measures.
The meeting was also attended by a number of fishermen who highlighted their reservations about the new policy that will be brought in over a number of years starting in 2015.
Particular concerns were raised on how they would be able to change and adapt their traditional methods of work practice to enable them to adhere to the new rules without severely affecting the economic and social viability of fragile and peripheral coastal communities.
Chair of the meeting, Jimmy Buchan, said: “Fishermen agree that the practice of discarding is abhorrent and embraces the concepts of reducing discards.
“We need more information on what the regulation will actually require as it appears to have the potential to be unworkable and devastating if implemented badly. We agree with regulating the industry, but it has to be good regulation that ensures sustainable fishing communities as well as fisheries.”