Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Scottish Parliament

Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP told MSPs the Scottish fishing industry faced challenges in the form of "a deeply flawed Common Fisheries Policy but also with the legal straightjacket of a deeply dysfunctional Cod Recovery Plan", during a Scottish government led debate on the annual EU fisheries negotiations on 12 December 2012.

The cabinet secretary was making his speech ahead of the much criticised annual EU fisheries talks which begin on 17 December 2012

Labour MSP Claire Baker said "progress must be made... so we can move away from this annual horse-trading".

Ms Baker noted the importance of fishing to the Scottish economy as it provides employment for 5,000 in the catching sector and many more in related sectors.

Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor took a different stance saying: "It is right we have the annual debate".

The Highlands MSP agreed with the Scottish government that a 20% reduction in the cod catch was too much and would: "lead to a significant increase in discards, a situation everybody is trying to avoid".

Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott noted the European Commission want a further 18% cut in days at sea and described the annual fisheries negotiations as "an internal EU arm-wrestle", adding "the European lunatics should not be allowed to take over the Brussels asylum" as the Scottish fishing industry: "is at a tipping point".

On 7 December round two fishing talks between the EU and Norway concluded without a bilateral agreement being reached on how shared stocks would be fished.

The EU-Norway agreement has implications for Scotland, including 2013 quota decisions on North Sea cod and herring, as well as the catch limit for mackerel due to the absence of agreement with Iceland and Faroes.

Talks will reconvene early in the New Year.

On 4 December 2012 Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead made a ministerial statement to the parliament.

Mr Lochhead called for radical overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy, adding: "As usual, we'll have our work cut out fighting to protect Scotland's position."

Scottish fishing leaders said in September they were disappointed that fresh discussions led to no agreement to end the long-running dispute over mackerel quotas.

The EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes were all represented at the talks.

The island nations have been criticised for declaring huge catches of the valuable fish in recent years, leading to fears for its sustainability.

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