New era for fisheries within Europe’s grasp: Lochhead

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Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has called on the European Union to deliver the reforms needed to ensure a viable future for Scotland’s fisheries.

Mr Lochhead pledged to fight for Scotland’s fisherman in Brussels and press Europe’s leaders to grasp this once in a generation opportunity.

For his part, he announced a £1m fund to underpin a transition to more sustainable fishing under a reformed Common Fisheries Policy, including elimination of discards.

An additional £1million funding will be made available over the next two years to help the industry develop more sustainable fishing practices, including development of new fishing gears that can reduce discards and research surveys that can inform fisheries management decisions. The funding will help Scotland tackle discards and take forward innovations to help bridge the transition to a reformed CFP.

The Fisheries Minister highlighted that now is the time for everyone in Scotland to stop looking back and dwelling on the hardships of years gone by, but instead to look to the future, to the huge opportunity that is now there to be grasped by Europe, and called on everyone to work together to ensure that opportunity is not missed.

Speaking at the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Annual Dinner in Edinburgh, Mr Lochhead said: “Both the CFP and Cod Recovery Plan are being reformed and we are putting in place a roadmap to discard free fisheries. Scotland demands that Europe grasps the opportunities offered by these reforms to deliver a better future for our fisheries. In Scotland we are playing our part and I look to Europe’s leaders to play theirs. Tackling discards is central to the serious challenge of reforming the dysfunctional Common Fisheries Policy. An EU fisheries policy that is meant to help conserve the fish stocks has in fact delivered a recipe for discards. That’s why we need the EU to take a radically different management approach.

“The journey to a discard free future is a difficult one and it’s one that government and industry will need to work hard on together. Scotland is proud of its record of close working between government and industry but this approach will now be more critical than ever to finding new, more sustainable ways of fishing. While I hope this additional £1m support will help to achieve that, we also need fresh ideas and new solutions to come from industry themselves, who are, after all, the experts.

“This funding can help us move to what we all hope will be a much changed and improved CFP – a CFP which delivers for our fishermen and promotes stock conservation.

“And to add to this package we’re planning to invest an additional £300,000 to double the number of scientific observers who can work with the industry to help provide the evidence for adopting new approaches to fishing.

“We’re also determined to resist unwarranted additional restrictions applied on time at sea for fishermen. That’s why we need an end to the cuts automatically imposed by Europe under a flawed Cod Recovery Plan. Through the end of year EU negotiations I will continue to press for this change.”