NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Scottish fishing industry to receive £12m

Image caption The SFF said there was huge demand for quality seafood

The Scottish fishing industry is to receive £12.3m to ensure a fit-for-purpose fleet, to help reduce discards and to improve safety.

Making the announcement at a Scottish Fishermen's Federation dinner, Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said 2012 would be a pivotal year.

He said there were opportunities ahead that could help improve the industry.

Ross Dougal, vice president of the SFF, added that the industry had a "great future" despite current difficulties.

Mr Lochhead used the annual gathering to announce cash from the European Fisheries Fund, which he said would also help improve the industry's supply chain.

He went on to outline forthcoming key events, including plans to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and a review of the cod recovery plan.

Referring to the CFP negotiations, he said: "We must turn something that has been wrong and badly damaging for Scotland's fishermen for so many years into something positive that could provide real and fair benefits in the years ahead.

"To make it fair we must ensure the science is listened to. It is not fair or reasonable that decisions to impose large reductions on fishing quotas were taken based on scientific advice and yet when that same advice is now advocating a large increase in quotas it seems to be ignored.

"Our fishermen have played by the rules to protect and conserve our fish stocks at huge costs to themselves. It is only right they now start to reap some of the benefits that previous pain should now allow."

With regard to the cod recovery plan, he said he was calling for a pause to effort cuts.

And he added that hosting the World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh in May would provide Scotland with a platform to demonstrate "the quality of our science and also host leading experts in the field to learn from each other".

'Seize opportunities'

Ross Dougal used his address to highlight the industry's potential, claiming the nation's quality seafood was in "huge demand" around the world.

He said a strong relationship with scientists had to be further developed to manage stocks.

He also called for a resolution to the mackerel dispute.

There have been year-long fears that increased quotas for the Faroes could harm mackerel stocks.

It is also feared that plans to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) could cost jobs.

Mr Dougal said: "Our seafood is of the highest quality, tastes great and is healthy to eat.

"Provided the right management regime is put in place under the new CFP, I believe that the Scottish fishing industry has a great future ahead of it, harvesting a marvellous and sustainable resource that is in huge demand from consumers around the world."

He also said: "We must seize the opportunity to provide the data for more real-time science even if on occasion this leads to quota reduction.

"The health of our stocks and the sustainability of our fisheries is of fundamental importance to fishermen and it is essential that we forge even closer relationships with scientists so as to have the most accurate information flow as possible."

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