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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 18:11 GMT
Quota fears for Scottish fishermen
Fishing poster and candle
The EU agreed massive cuts in quotas
Scotland risks losing its share of Europe's fish quotas if part of its fleet is decommissioned, MSPs have been warned.

The concern was voiced by fishermen's leader Hamish Morrison.

He was giving evidence to members of the Scottish Parliament's rural development committee, who travelled to Aberdeen to hear how the European Union measures have been impacting on fishing communities.

Hamish Morrison
Hamish Morrison: Giving evidence to MSPs
In December, the EU agreed to cut quotas amid concern that North Sea stocks were on the verge of collapse.

The deal meant that cod catches in the North Sea would be reduced by 45%, with further large cuts in other white fish catches and fishermen have now only been guaranteed 15 days at sea a month.

Fisheries Minister Ross Finnie has announced a 50m aid package for the industry.

Up to 40m will be spent on decommissioning to reduce capacity in the fishing fleet, and a further 10m will go towards providing a six-month breathing space to help fishermen adjust to the new regime.

Mr Morrison, the chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, was asked what happened to the fish quota allocated to any vessel scrapped under the scheme.

He told MSPs that since the mid-1990s the government had allowed the owners of decommissioned vessels to sell the boat's quota allocation.

Mr Morrison said that if this continued two things may happen.

One was that people from outwith Scotland could buy any old boat and aggregate the decommissioned quotas.

He said it would be even worse if the quota remained unallocated and was then redistributed by the European Commission.

These proposals have huge significance for the whole of Scotland's fishing fleet

Alex Fergusson
Committee convener
Those giving evidence at the city council offices also included Hansen Black of the Shetland Fishermen's Association and Carol MacDonald of the campaign group Cod Crusaders.

Members of the public were also been invited to give evidence.

Committee convener Alex Fergusson said MSPs were keen to find out how the cuts have affected communities.

The Tory MSP said: "These proposals have huge significance for the whole of Scotland's fishing fleet.

"It is vital that we hear from the people whose lives will be most affected by them.

"We believe it is important to hold our meeting in Aberdeen so that local people have the chance to give us their views."


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18 Feb 03 | Scotland
24 Jan 03 | Scotland
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