Fishermen’s Federations delivered a stark message to UK fisheries ministers in Edinburgh on Wednesday, warning that efforts must be stepped up to head off devastating cuts proposed by the EC.
With the annual round of international negotiations about to begin which will set the UK industry catching opportunity for 2010, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) told ministers they must harden their opposition to the cuts – otherwise some sectors of the fishing fleet would be destroyed.
NFFO chief executive Barrie Deas said reductions in days at sea under the new plan for cod will do serious and lasting damage to the fleet.
“The headline days-at-sea reductions which we face next year and thereafter do not amount to a coherent plan for continuing the recovery of cod while allowing the whitefish industry to survive.”
Only last week, EU fiheries commissioner Joe Borg underlined to Scottish fishing minister Richard Lochhead that the EC had no intention of revising the cod management plan agreed in 2008, and which had built-in year-on-year cuts.
SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “The plan will deliver cuts in days at sea of 13 per cent in the North Sea and 25 per cent in the west of Scotland. A recent Scottish Government economic report shows that this will kill viability in some sectors of the fleet.
“The Commission insists that the plan, as it stands, cannot be reopened because it is new. However, the solid message from the quayside is that that the plan will do immediate and needless damage. There are choices in the speed and severity of the restrictions, which could achieve the shared aims of stock recovery and fleet survival. These sensible alternatives must be taken.”
The federations felt strongly that the continuing flawed approach was unacceptable and that the only real potential for change was through a dramatic increase in political pressure. A joint statement warned: “We are staring at economic casualties in the short term. Ministers must engage now with Europe in a much more direct and decisive way, or there will be sectors of the industry – and their associated communities – that simply will not survive.”