Scotland irked by EC’s proposed quota cuts
Reaction to the European Commission’s proposed 2012 fishing quotas for the Atlantic and North Sea, unveiled on Tuesday, is pouring in from Scotland, where politicians and fishermen alike say the Scottish fishing fleet will be hit particularly if the anticipated cuts are approved.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) called the news “grim” and “a missed opportunity for sensible fisheries management.” The include a 25 percent reduction for anglerfish (monkfish), a 15 percent cut for megrim, an 11 percent cut for hake, all on Scotland’s west coast, and an 11 percent cut for prawns in the North Sea. Also, an increase of 25 percent for haddock on the west coast isn’t nearly enough, alleged the SFF.
What’s more, Scottish fishermen may not be allowed to catch any cod on Scotland’s west coast and in Irish Sea next year.
“We had hoped that with the Scottish fleet’s record of discard reduction and stock conservation that a more intelligent approach to fisheries management would have been adopted by the EC this year. Unfortunately, we have another dose of the same old medicine,” said SFF CEO Bertie Armstrong.
“Many of the cuts have been imposed as an automatic result of the failure of other EU member states to supply adequate catch data. This means that many of the cuts are not due to poor stock levels, but rather a blunt instrument by the EC to improve the flow of catch data. It is totally unfair that the Scottish industry, which has been at the forefront of providing such data, should be penalized for the inaction of other EU member states,” he added.
Ian Hudghton, an MEP and president of the Scottish National Party, echoed Armstrong’s ire. “Just as the negotiations for reform of the CFP get under way, the commission has served up a timely reminder of the total inadequacies of the current system. The commission has ignored scientific advice and has made proposals which would see an increase in discards,” he said. “Scotland’s fishermen have worked hard to use innovative fishing techniques aimed at increased sustainability. These efforts have not been rewarded and instead the Commission are using the same old blunt and failed tools.”
“The problem is that while we all support MSY [maximum sustainable yield], which means getting to a state where catches never exceed the stock's ability to reproduce sustainably, the timescale of 2012 for stocks around the UK is just not achievable,” Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson told The Parliament.com. “My fear is that in twenty years’ time our seas may once again be teeming with fish, but there will not be a single British fisherman left to catch them.”