Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 16:56 UK

Key fishing quota talks welcomed

Fishing boat
The minister discussed conservation measures already adopted

The Scottish fishing fleet must be allowed more freedom to operate, the fisheries minister has urged.

Richard Lochhead met the European Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg in Brussels ahead of the latest round of quota talks.

Mr Lochhead highlighted work already done by Scottish boats to conserve stock levels and asked for recognition of this when setting quotas.

He also stressed the economic fragility of certain sections of the fleet.

Mr Lochhead said he was looking to protect all sectors of the fleet and reduce the "scourge" of discards.

'Sustainable fishing'

He said after the meeting: "The Scottish government is committed to ensuring that the valuable fish stocks around Scotland's coasts are harvested sustainably so as to secure the long-term future of our fisheries.

"Commissioner Borg and myself agreed that this was a common aim.

"He acknowledged that the Commission would need to follow the development of quota and effort allocations to ensure that they were kept in line with each other. This debate will no doubt continue over the coming weeks."

Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: "The SFF welcomes this exchange of views at the beginning of the negotiations for catching opportunity for 2010 which will affect the Scottish fleet.

"Despite facing some very difficult circumstances, all sectors of the Scottish fleet have been playing their part in meeting the aim of sustainable fishing.

"As we approach the decision-making, it is absolutely vital that Scottish initiatives and sacrifices are taken into account in practical terms."

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