Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Fishermen set for more sea days

Fish at market
The Scottish fishing industry is still said to face challenges

A scheme to allow fishermen to win the right to have more days at sea has been unveiled by the Scottish Government.

Conservation credits will reward skippers with top up days if they adopt conservation measures.

These include using prawn nets that allow cod to escape and avoiding fishing in cod conservation areas.

Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) chief executive Bertie Armstrong said the industry still faced challenges in coping with tough EU.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "We face big challenges this year as we step up our efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and tackle discards. But Conservation Credits II will get us off to a flying start.

"The ground-breaking efforts of our fishermen under the previous scheme marked the beginning of a brave new approach to sustainable fishing in Scotland.

"It has rightly been heralded as the standard-bearer for the European fleet and embedded in the new EU cod recovery plan. We have earned the right to determine ourselves the arrangements that will apply to our own fleet."

'Demonstrated willingness'

Mr Armstrong said: "While we in Scotland are a step ahead, we must not fail to recognise the stark reality that this year there is less available effort - or time at sea - to go round.

"The initial basic allocation includes a very severe reduction, particularly for some sections of the fleet. The changes in gear and in fishing patterns required to recover some of those days back will make a very real difference to commercial viability.

"The reason for these measures in the first place is to reduce - in a recovering stock - the total amount of cod removed from the sea. The Scottish industry has demonstrated a willingness to make this happen and will continue to do so."

He added: "There will now be a period of consultation and the end result has to be a set of measures that will permit an industry that is already fishing sustainably to remain commercially sustainable as well."

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