Fisheries politicians hear policy concerns

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The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation played an important briefing role in a visit to Peterhead last Friday by MEPs and UK shadow fisheries minister, Fiona O’Donnell, MP.

At a lunch hosted by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, the MEPs Chris Davies, Ian Hudghton, and Struan Stevenson, heard from fishermen, seafood processors and other business representatives about their main concerns over current fisheries management measures and the path the current reform process of the Common Fisheries Policy may take.

Struan Stevenson and Ian Hudghton are key members of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee, whilst Chris Davies is represented on both the Fisheries and Environmental Committees, thus holding an influential position that bridges the gap between both interests.

After the lunch, Mr Davies toured and met the skippers of the whitefish vessel Ocean Harvester and the pelagic craft Quantus, where an open and frank discussion took place highlighting the main issues currently affecting both these sectors of the industry.

At an evening reception at the Waterside Hotel, the MEPs were joined by UK shadow fisheries minister, Fiona O’Donnell, MP, where another lively debate took place on the main issues covering CFP reform.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, said: “This was a very useful visit and fishermen and their representatives strongly highlighted their main fears over the possible outcome of CFP reform, including such issues as discard bans and the very real gap between fishermen’s experience of the state of the stocks in the seas, compared with the scientific assessment and the subsequent draconian management regimes that are then imposed. It was very useful to have the MEPs there including Chris Davies, given his representation on both the European Fisheries and Environmental Committees.

“As someone with perhaps less direct contact than the others in the past with the industry, he was very keen to make the most of this opportunity and was particularly interested in hearing about first-hand experiences of skippers and their views on the key issues affecting the industry.”