By LOUISE THOMASON
CONCERNS have been raised over the European Commission’s announcement this week to cut fish quotas by up to 25 per cent in some species, including whitefish and herring.
The proposals, which cover a range of species and outlines recommendations for the fishing industry for 2009, has been condemned as a “crude management approach” by Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong.
He said: “There are no great surprises in the EC proposals – much of which we will strongly oppose. We understand and share the management aims and will be offering realistic solutions based on a more intelligent approach to fisheries management.”
Based on the research of the Commission’s scientific, technical and economic committee on fisheries (STECF), the recommendations include allowing “breathing space” for stocks of cod, haddock and whiting off the west of Scotland by stopping targeted fishing, something which Shetland Fisherman’s Association chairman Leslie Tait finds worrying.
He said: “I’m concerned at the proposals to close the west coast. It is a huge area, and while Shetland doesn’t have many boats there the displacement of boats could have a big impact on Shetland’s fleet.”
Shetland Fishermen’s Association chief executive Hansen Black expressed concern at the lack of science behind much of the recommendations which could have a more direct effect on Shetland fishing, as declining stock trends could lead to reduced overall quotas and species such as the megrim could get caught up in the “precautionary approach” of the commission.
Mr Black explained: “If there is no science, there is little way of presenting the situation to the scientific community.
We took the initiative to assess the megrim stocks, and the work done this year shows that megrim are in abundance and increasing. A report is to be presented to the Commission on our findings and we would be looking to push for a quota increase of 15 per cent at the fisheries council.”
The quotas are due to be finalised at the review in Norway next month. The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation yesterday presented the main concerns of the industry to Scottish fishing minister Richard Lochhead.