Shetland Islands Council is calling for changes to new European proposals which could see a ban on “deep sea fishing”.
Political leader Gary Robinson and councillor Jonathan Wills, who represents the SIC on the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, have written jointly to all members of the European Parliament.
They give their support to the President of the Regional Council of Brittany whose community also counts the fishing and seafood industries as the backbone of its economy.
The proposed measures are intended to protect vulnerable habitats and species such as sponges, ancient reefs of cold-water coral and some deep water fish. While the SIC supports the broad objectives, Dr Wills said there had to be more clarity in what was proposed.
He said: “Our fishermen have, for many years, led the way in avoiding destructive practices, such as the industrial sandeel fishery. They’ve made major contributions to fisheries science, and co-operated wholeheartedly with research carried out by NAFC and national agencies.
“However, I have grave reservations about supporting proposals which could see even more restrictions imposed on the local fleet.
“Skippers are already limited to where they can fish, with competition from other seabed users such as the oil, gas and aquaculture industries – never mind from vessels from other EU countries – and they are already severely restricted in the number of days they are allowed to fish.
“We’ve already drawn attention to the severe problems in implementing the well-intentioned, politically popular, but ill-informed and vaguely-worded ‘ban’ on discards.
“We need a clearer, technical explanation of exactly what a ‘ban on deep sea fishing’ means, and how it is likely to affect Europe’s remote and fragile coastal communities.”