Lochhead meets with Damanaki

Developing innovative fisheries management fit for this decade will be key to ensuring the success of the historic discard ban.

That was the message from Scotland’s Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead as he met with the outgoing EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki in Luxembourg to discuss current issues affecting the Scottish fishing fleet.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Lochheadsaid: “Today’s meeting was helpful and our main discussion was around the upcoming implementation of the historic discard ban.

“I believe that Member States and the Commission need to show joint leadership in developing - without delay - new fisheries management approaches to enable effective delivery of the discard ban while maintaining the viability of European fleets.

“At the moment we are trying to use tools, such as single species quotas, from the 1980s to solve modern-day complex 21st century issues.

“If we don’t take the opportunity to find solutions that are fit for this decade we’ll fail our fishermen and our stocks.

“Finding how to implement discard bans in a mixed fishery like we have in Scotland’s waters is now a matter of urgency.

“If our fleet exhausts its lowest quota for one species, then how can it catch its other bigger quotas without discarding?

“That’s the question for which an answer is now a matter of urgency.

“I was also keen to stress the importance of a level playing field across the EU and with other key countries such as Norway when it comes to the monitoring and enforcement of the ban.

“We cannot have fishermen from different countries fishing the same waters but subject to different levels of compliance monitoring.

“That would be exceptionally unfair, cause much ill feeling and lose the goodwill of our industry.

“I look forward to continuing these discussions both at UK and EU level over the next few weeks,” he added.

During the meeting the impact of the Russian trade ban was also discussed and Mr Lochhead welcomed the Commissioner’s move to increase the banking of quota for fishermen.