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EDITIONS
Saturday, 2 November, 2002, 18:40 GMT
Lib Dems clash over fish stocks
Cod
The ban was proposed by European Union scientists
A senior Liberal Democrat has accused party leaders of getting it wrong on fishing policy.

Former chief executive Andy Myles said that failing to support a ban on white fish catches was short-term thinking.

However, his stance only received the backing of a small minority of delegates at the Scottish party's autumn conference in Glasgow.


Without sustainable management of fish stocks, there will be no fish

Andy Myles
The Liberal Democrats instead agreed to call on ministers and the fishing industry to work together to draw up a plan to save the industry.

European Union scientists have proposed a total ban on cod fishing in an effort to conserve stocks.

Haddock and whiting catches could also be banned because cod can accidentally be caught in the same nets.

Last week Fisheries Minister Ross Finnie, a Lib Dem MSP, told the Scottish Parliament that he rejected proposals for the wholesale closure of the industry to save cod stocks.

He maintained that stance as he addressed the conference on Saturday.

Conserve stocks

"I have no intention of presiding over the wholesale decline of the white fish industry in Scotland," he said.

"In working with the industry, I recognise I have also to come up with a proposition which leads us to a sustainable Scottish fishing industry."

And he added: "I believe by working in co-operation with the industry, we can come forward with a proposal that will maintain the industry and conserve these essential fish stocks."

Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie has rejected closure plans
However, some party members believe that such a stance actually undermines the industry - along with the party's eco-friendly image.

Mr Myles, who will contest the Edinburgh Central seat for the party at the next Holyrood elections, argued: "Without sustainable management of fish stocks, there will be no fish.

"We need to have a decommissioning scheme, we need to have it well-funded and we need to have a smaller fishing fleet.

"I'm sorry, but if we don't have one, we lose the fish. We as a party have to have the bravery to stand up and say sustainability means preventing the complete and utter collapse of our fish stocks."

However, only six activists voted against the emergency resolution put forward by Shetland MSP Tavish Scott.

Compensating measures

He called for Scottish ministers and the industry to work together to produce "a practical plan" which would maintain the industry and conserve stocks.

"Fishermen support sustainability too. They want to fish the seas and for that they need sustainable stocks," he said.

"But to accept science alone, without compensating measures and without taking on board the expertise and knowledge of the industry itself, would be wrong."

See also:

02 Nov 02 | Scotland
31 Oct 02 | Scotland
30 Oct 02 | Scotland
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