NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

'Urgent change required' over fishing policy

Fish
Image caption The inquiry heard evidence from more than 80 industry experts

Scotland's seas are a "graveyard for the EU's attempt at management", an independent panel has claimed.

The Future of Fisheries Management was set up by the Scottish government to look at ways of safeguarding fish stocks and fishing communities.

It has recommended a more regional approach to managing stocks, rather than having catches dictated by Brussels.

The inquiry panel also called on industry leaders to get more involved.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead established the group last year to look into the future of fisheries management in Scotland.

Urgent change

It was headed up by Alan Campbell CBE, the former chief executive of Aberdeenshire Council and Grampian Regional Council.

He said: "A major recommendation of the inquiry panel is that we need to move to a more regional management structure of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

"It is only in this way that we see these European regulations being more relevant, understandable and respected by Scotland's fishermen.

"Furthermore, the embarrassment of discards - which achieve nothing except the wasteful reduction of stocks - must stop being an inevitable outcome of CFP regulations."

He said during the next 10 years the Scottish industry was likely to face greater uncertainty than at any time since the early 1980s.

"That's why real change is now urgent," he added.

Mr Lochhead said: "This timely and powerful report will make a substantial contribution to the immediate debate on the future of EU fisheries policy and the long-term future of our fishing communities.

"Importantly, the report delivers a clarion call for the radical overhaul of EU fishing policy given the damage inflicted in recent decades by the Common Fisheries Policy.

"It rightly refers to Scotland's seas as the 'graveyard for the EU's attempt at management'."

'Wide-ranging'

Liberal Democrat Fisheries spokesman Liam McArthur congratulated the team for its analysis of the "complex challenges" facing the fishing industry.

"The recommendations they make are wide-ranging," he said.

"In many cases, they will make for uncomfortable reading not just for fishermen and ministers, but for all those with an interest and involvement in the sector."

Peter Peacock, Labour MSP for Highlands and Islands, said the report would be a useful contribution to shaping the future of fisheries management in Scotland.

He called on the government to step up efforts to protect the interests of Scottish fleets.

Dr Mireille Thom, marine policy officer at WWF Scotland said the report made it clear that the industry faced an "uncertain future" without additional steps at home and abroad.

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