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Commercial Fishing


Call for government support when industry leaves CFP. Scottish fishermen’s leaders last night called for a practical, joined-up approach from both Westminster and Holyrood governments as the industry prepares to exit the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

In his speech to the annual Scottish Fishermen’s Federation dinner, chief executive Bertie Armstrong said the prize on offer – potentially becoming a larger fishing nation than Iceland – was too great for political games.

He told guests, including Scottish fisheries minister Fergus Ewing and Lord Duncan of the Scotland Office, that “we are unequivocally looking for practical support from all the governments in charge of the fishing fortunes of this northern land”.

“The prize is far too large – I speak of the UK overtaking Iceland by volume and value in the globalised world of seafood – for any half-hearted approaches such as making the best of an inevitability, or allowing challenges to become defeatism.

“No, instead we want commitment to executing the Sea of Opportunity for a new independent Coastal State with a place on the world stage.”

The SFF has been at the forefront of lobbying efforts to ensure that the UK becomes a sovereign, independent Coastal State, allowing it to dictate which vessels can fish within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), for what and when.

This would replace the current system under the CFP which allocates two-thirds of fish catches in UK waters to vessels from other EU countries.

In his speech to the dinner, SFF president Ian Gatt highlighted the need for swift practical solutions to the unworkable discard ban.

“There is universal commitment to ending discarding, but no one connected with the practical operation of the industry is in any doubt that the ban will fail in its present form.

“It is a political rather than practical set of rules. Brexit will provide the tools to make it work in our waters, like Norway does, by matching catching opportunity with what is actually in the sea, but for the immediate future our politicians must be brave and produce a political solution.”

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish Government has taken a consistently responsible and pragmatic approach to engagement with the UK Government, with a focus on constructive engagement to protect and advance Scotland’s fishing interests.  And it is pleasing that Defra have chosen to respond in a similar fashion in this case, taking on board our advice and expertise.

“That includes, for example, successfully persuading the UK Government to refrain from seeking new powers over quota for the Secretary of State that would have clearly undermined the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

“This demonstrates that when the UK Government works with, rather than against the Devolved Administrations, positive results can be delivered.  And I hope that such constructive engagement can be replicated in relation to other UK Government legislation.

“We are about to embark on a period of unprecedented change for Scotland’s fishing industry, and I’m calling on everyone in the industry to come together and pull in the same direction, to ensure that we get the best possible outcome for our fishermen.

“But I am absolutely clear that my job is to champion the interests of Scottish fishing.  That is my priority, whether that requires us to work with UK Government or to act alone, and to press the UK Government to do more or differently. Protecting and promoting the interests of Scottish fishing comes before everything else”