Page last updated at 23:58 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 00:58 UK

Fishermen 'to resist fleet cuts'

A Scottish fisherman in North Atlantic
The SFF said it believed the Scottish fleet was the right size

Fishing industry leaders have vowed to resist any attempt to reduce the Scottish fleet.

The European Commission is publishing plans to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The commission launched the review on the grounds the current regime failed to protect stocks, and fishermen who obey the rules can still be penalised.

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) said it believed the Scottish fleet was the right size.

The draft proposals from the commission highlight there are too many boats fishing in European waters. It is claimed this is at the root of all problems for the industry, and must be addressed in CFP reforms.

We have worked hard and made sacrifices to protect the stocks and will continue to do so
Bertie Armstrong
Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief executive

The SFF has called for safeguards for the Scottish industry, and more regional control.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: "Reform is very necessary indeed - by anyone's standards the CFP has failed.

"It is of paramount importance that the forthcoming debate is focused on practical, meaningful reform and not solely on expressions of rejection of the current policy.

"It is essential that the final outcome ensures that there is an efficient framework of properly managing the access of European fleets to a limited and shared resource - fish do not recognise national boundaries."

'Important part'

He explained: "The mechanisms of the CFP are far too centralised, in a top-down, one-size-fits-all regime. This takes little account of regional differences and the starkly different approaches taken by individual member states to responsible fishing.

"For the Scottish fleet, the outcome must protect the future our historically proven share of the fish in our waters.

"We have worked hard and made sacrifices to protect the stocks and will continue to do so. We look forward to playing our important part in shaping the future of fisheries policy in Europe."

Environment group WWF Scotland said the recovery of stocks must be at the top of the agenda of reform.

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