Lochhead raises fears with EU

Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead and UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon have held productive discussions with EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki.

Through a teleconference this afternoon, the Ministers raised their joint concerns over confusing figures from the European Commission, published on November 24, which indicate additional reductions in fishing time next year for Scottish, English and Northern Irish vessels.

Mr Lochhead said: “We held positive discussions today with the Commissioner, where we agreed to work collaboratively to find a resolution. I welcome that the Commissioner has agreed to repeal the new regulation, given the confusion over the figures, while we will continue dialogue in Brussels on December 5. We are now working flat out to avoid any ill-thought and rushed decisions being taken.

“I made clear that the proposed reductions to days at sea are unjustifiable and of deep concern to our fishermen. These measures would be crippling for our fishing fleets and would fail to recognise Scotland’s conservation measures.

“Scotland’s measures both allow our fleet to go to sea but to avoid cod. It would be immoral for a dispute over the interpretation of the small print in European regulations to undo all our good work and to bring our industry’s to its knees.”