Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 15:15 UK

Fishermen set for 'tough times'

North Sea haddock and cod fish (archive)
Fishing negotiations in Europe will soon get under way

The Scottish fishing industry faces tough times ahead, due to a combination of recession and regulations, a new report has warned.

The study for the Scottish Government by the industry body Seafish said high fuel prices then low catch prices were affecting the prawn market.

The report also warned days at sea restrictions for white fish boats would see some operations make a loss.

Scottish ministers will use the findings in European negotiations.

Fisheries minister Richard Lochhead said: "Fishing is a tough way of life at the best of times but this year the combined effect of the economic climate and the tough restrictions imposed by Europe has made life particularly difficult for our fishermen.

"We have stressed this point a number of times in our dealings with the European Commission and commissioned this study to provide robust evidence. It shows just how economically fragile our fleets are.

"We are about to enter the annual round of autumn negotiations in Europe, when crucial decisions are taken on quotas and days at sea."

'Huge difficulties'

He added: "This study will help inform our negotiating position and, as a first step, we will be discussing it with Commission officials later this month."

Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: "This report itemises in a very stark manner the huge difficulties that the Scottish white fish and prawn fleets are facing today, and into 2010 and beyond.

"We are urgently calling upon the Scottish and UK governments to champion the cause, with us, of achieving in the negotiations, which start next month, maximum sustainable catching opportunity for 2010.

"This year has been more than difficult so far and large sections of the industry will be unable to tolerate any worse outcome for next year and beyond."

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