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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Scotland 'happy' with quota plan
Fishing net
The plans are aimed at saving fish stocks
Plans for a major shake-up of Europe's fisheries policy have been welcomed by Scotland's environment minister and the fishing industry.

Ross Finnie said Scotland's objectives were "well represented" in the proposals unveiled by European Union Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler.

"I am encouraged to see that the commission appear not to have not shied away from proposing a thorough and innovative rethink of the fisheries policy," said Mr Finnie.

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) has expressed its confidence that Scotland has already taken the action needed to meet the EU targets and avoid further cuts.


We had a great deal of upheaval in our industry and we calculated what was required to put our fleet back in line with its fishing opportunities

Hamish Morrison
Scottish Fishermen's Federation

The plans, which are due to come into effect from the end of this year, are aimed at saving endangered fish species.

It has been estimated that they could mean the loss of about 28,000 jobs in the industry across Europe.

Proposals to end subsidies for building new trawlers are expected to be met with fierce opposition in the areas where this will have the greatest effect - Ireland and southern European countries.

Hamish Morrison, chief executive of the SFF, said Scottish fishermen would be pleased to see the end of the subsidies.

Cod in boxes
The industry has faced "upheaval"

"The big argument isn't going to be for us but for the southern countries who are so deeply dependent on subsidies.

"We, of course, receive no subsidies in our fleet," he said.

Mr Morrison said he hoped that the reductions already made in Scotland would satisfy the European Commission.

He told BBC Scotland that it was looking for an 18% cut in tonnage and the Scottish fleet had already introduced a 20% reduction.

"We had a great deal of upheaval in our industry and we calculated what was required to put our fleet back in line with its fishing opportunities," he said.

Fishing ports

"After negotiations with the government a decommissioning scheme was agreed and it is going ahead now.

"When it is completed in a few weeks' time we will be absolutely in line with the kind of targets that Europe is now trying to set for others."

His view was echoed by fisherman Mike Park, who pointed out that traditional fishing ports like Aberdeen and Peterhead were now "a shadow" of their former selves.


It is up to the European Commission to insist and make sure that before we move any further that they address the situation in other EU states

Mike ParkFisherman

"We cannot allow our side of the industry to dwindle any more," he said.

"We have addressed the situation with bigger mesh sizes and cod closures and we have reduced 20% of the fleet this year.

"Other fleets haven't taken those steps and I think it is up to the European Commission to insist and make sure that before we move any further that they address the situation in other EU states."

Regional committees

Mr Finnie said the review provided an opportunity to hold a "serious debate" aimed at creating a sustainable future for fisheries and the communities which depend on the industry.

"Some key Scottish objectives for the review are well represented in the proposals," he said.

"For example, there is a reasonably positive approach to the need to make permanent six and 12-mile limits, to maintain the principle of relative stability and to set up regional advisory committees.

Trawler
Some boats have been scrapped

"These have been important elements of the initial UK position - which was drawn up in conjunction with the executive."

He said Scotland had already been pragmatic by decommissioning part of its white fish fleet.

"So long as the commission take account of what we have already done, I support the general principle of reducing effort," he added.

"Months of tough negotiations lie ahead and the Scottish Executive will participate as a key member of the UK team.

"In developing our negotiating strategy for the review, we will be consulting fully with key stakeholders so we can work together to create a sustainable future for Scotland's sea fishery."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Craig Anderson reports
"The months ahead could be very stormy indeed"
See also:

28 May 02 | Europe
24 May 02 | UK
01 May 02 | Science/Nature
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