The European Commission has a brilliant opportunity to address profound concerns about the forthcoming application of fishing discard bans, according to a fishermen’s spokesman.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said that the end of year Fisheries Council that has been running for the last two days looked like holding few surprises on main species quotas that were previously decided at talks between the EU and Norway.
But he warned that the pelagic landings obligation that comes into force in January was “legal chaos” that must be fixed urgently and the same situation not allowed to crop again when the white fish discard ban takes force in 2016.
Mr Collins said: “With this pelagic ban we have got two completely incompatible sets of rules and the commission is incapable of saying what the law is.
“It’s like having a ball but you do not know if the rules are meant to be rugby or football and they are saying ‘now get on with it’.”
Mr Collins said that the industry and Scottish government were doing a good job lobbying the commission on the discard ban which had to get it right. “It has to be fixed in time, and that time is now,” he said.
Previously, boats could dump fish that did not meet the minimum landing size. They will soon be prevented from doing this, but will face the problem of being compelled to land fish that are technically illegal.
He said that the negotiators would also have to make sure that the commission did not attempt to sneak in a tightening of the number of days boats were allowed at sea through the back door.