Politicians mull over the outcome of Fisheries Minister’s visit

BERWICKSHIRE fishermen took full advantage of last week’s visit to Eyemouth by Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Caroline Spelmen to spell out their concerns and frustrations about EU fisheries policy and local politicians also had their say.

Secretary of State for Scotland, and Borders MP Michael Moore accompanied Ms Spelmen on her visit and was pleased with how the discussions went.

“Our fishermen here in Berwickshire face enormous challenges from EU regulation and they experience particular compliance difficulties as they fish both in English and Scottish seas,” said Mr Moore.

“Caroline emphasised her commitment to reform of the CFP to tackle these issues and she also pledged to continue to work with the Scottish Government to reduce the red tape which the UK and Scottish Governments have direct control over. She encouraged the fishermen to communicate their specific frustrations to her department so they can work to end the damage poorly implemented regulations can do to fishing businesses.

“The fishermen also outlined their concerns about quotas and reduced days at sea and the lack of recognition from the EU of the effort they have made to improve their nets and reduce discards. Caroline agreed that these aspects of the CFP were placing extreme pressure on the Scottish fishing industry and she assured those present that she would work with her allies in the EU to fight for the best deal for our fishermen. She also emphasised that this meeting must be part of an ongoing dialogue and, as local MP, I agreed to continue to meet with Borders fishermen to communicate their concerns surrounding the CFP direct to the UK Government.”

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, John Lamont also attended the meeting and said afterwards “It was a hugely constructive meeting and I am glad that we were able to discuss several issues that are of huge significance to our industry.

“They are currently burdened with a vast number of controls and regulations which makes it incredibly difficult for them to get on with their job. We need to take away these restrictions.

“I was therefore pleased that the Minister announced that she would set-up a taskforce to review the red tape which fishermen have to deal with.

“The fishing industry is vital to the Borders and to the local economy in Eyemouth. Both the UK and Scottish Governments must do all that they can to support the fishing industry so we can see it flourish in the years to come.”

However, SNP South of Scotland list MSP, Paul Wheelhouse was “disappointed” that the ministers had not alerted other politicians about their visit to Eyemouth to meet fishing industry representatives.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Given that I live locally, and have a long standing interest in fisheries issues, I would have appreciated the opportunity to meet with her (Caroline Spelman) given the number of constituents who I have spoken to about the very issues she was here to address.

“The real threat to the already diminishing Eyemouth fleet has been heightened with recent developments in fish quotas and the concerns over the extremely important nephrops sector to the south east coast of Scotland have been raised with me on a number of occasions.”