Golden opportunity for Scottish fishing industry

The Scottish government said it had not been properly consulted and had "significant concerns" about the proposals.

MCS says that although there is good re-commitment in the consultation document to improving the sustainability of our fisheries, there is a lack of clarity on how this will be achieved on important issues such as reducing bycatch of vulnerable species and achieving an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.

There were protests earlier this year when it was revealed that the United Kingdom would continue to be bound by the Common Fisheries Policy during the post-Brexit transition period which is due to run until the end of 2020.

It will be followed by a Fisheries Bill which will include the ability to set quotas.

Collins said the white paper "clearly sets out what our members want and expect from the United Kingdom government, which is taking full control over who fishes in our waters, when, for what, and how".

The government says it will give particular attention to enabling cross border cooperation with the Irish Republic in fisheries management in line with previous commitments to the EU. This is consistent with the approach to fisheries taken by other coastal states including Norway, it said.

The new legislation on fisheries will base its allocation of fishing opportunities on the distribution of fish stocks, and will also introduce new legislation to prevent the wasteful discarding of fish, and ensure that vessels aiming to fish in United Kingdom waters meet high standards of sustainability before they are allowed to do so.

"The plans set out today demonstrate the bright future in store as we build United Kingdom fishing industry for future generations by putting the importance of a healthy marine environment at its heart".

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"The paper completely ignores the critical importance of ongoing access to labour for the seafood processing sector and, whilst acknowledging seafood trade as "vital", provides no detail whatsoever on how seafood exports will be protected from potentially damaging trade barriers", he added.

Quotas saw boats sometimes forced to throw part of their catch back in the sea - known as discards - while coastal communities hold bitter memories of boats being scrapped to meet quotas for reduced fishing capacity.

Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said the paper "enshrines the important elements of a sustainable future for our industry: allowing the United Kingdom to become an independent coastal state, to take charge of who catches what and where, and to resist any attempt to link access to our waters to access to European Union markets".

There is huge support amongst the British public for new laws that ensure we fish responsibly and protect the marine environment.

"We will work closely with everyone who has an interest in this important industry to make the most of this historic opportunity".

As part of its proposals, the United Kingdom government will commit to publishing an annual statement of fish stocks and promise to work with devolved administrations to help any struggling stocks to recover.

The Scottish Fishermen Federation (SSF) and the National Federation of Fishermen's Organization (NFFO) welcomed the intentions to regain control of the waters but asked the government to stand by it in Brexit negotiations. We need well-managed fisheries to achieve that and the government's initial plans leave a lot to be desired.

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