the UK Fisheries Minister pledge to fight European rules that force fishermen to throw huge numbers of dead fish back into the sea will be welcomed by Berwickshire fishermen who have long be frustrated by the rules and regulations they see as completely illogical.
During a debate on the issue last week the Minister vowed to end the ‘abomination’ of fish discards in a hungry world. Fishermen are forced to throw fish, which are often dead or dying, back over board in order to comply with EU quotas outlined in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
This has led to the discard of an estimated 40-60% of the fish caught in the North Sea.
He argued that a reformed CFP must do all it can to eradicate discards by getting rid of unnecessary and over-detailed regulation and managing stocks on a regional or sea-basin basis. He said that he wants to see fishermen given clear entitlements to fish stocks and a stake in the long-term health of those stocks.
Welcoming the Minister’s pledge, Borders MP Michael Moore said:“I welcome the cross-party response to this horrendous practice of fish discarding which fishermen are forced into under the current EU quota system.
“A number of my constituents have written to me about this issue and I know that our local fishermen are frustrated by the illogical rules and regulations they have to comply with which leads to this terrible waste of fish.
“I am looking forward to travelling to Brussels next month to meet with the officials leading negotiations on the reform of the CFP.”
The promise by the UK Fisheries Minister is also likely to be welcomed by the new Scottish Government, which has re-appointed Richard Lochhead as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs championing the interests of both the Scottish fisheries and farming sectors.
The newly elected South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse (SNP) who lives in Berwickshire and has been in regular contact with local fishermen confirmed that “reform of the Common Fisheries Policy will be high on the Government’s agenda, including pushing Europe to allow the sector to tackle wasteful discards of fish”.
Mr Wheelhouse welcomed the reappointment of Mr Lochhead and said: “Just under a month ago I was campaigning with Richard Lochhead in Eyemouth and Duns, introducing him to representatives of the local fishing sector, local farmers and seafood producers.
“At that time, it was obvious that there was considerable mutual respect between Richard and those he met and that he is highly regarded by industry representatives. I am delighted therefore that he has been re-appointed and I know that rural policy in Scotland is again in very safe hands.
“During the election we introduced the SNP’s farming manifesto. Among our proposals, the SNP Government will want to establish a national chain of community based food networks that link up local suppliers with catering outlets, hotels and retailers.
“We will create a £1 million Great Scottish Food Challenge to support the development of new products alongside the creation of new links between our creative and food sectors to improve packaging and labelling and therefore the marketability of new Scottish products.
“We also propose a new added value campaign - a farm to fork, net to plate initiative - to maximise the economic return for farming and fishing producers and we will make use of existing global networks to create Scottish food and drink ambassadors to promote our produce across the globe.
“A big focus of our efforts will be on job creation and on growing our food and drink sector to £12.5 billion in value by 2017. So there is much for us to be doing to support local food and drink excellence across areas such as the Scottish Borders.”