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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Whiteford Seeks Commitment from UK Fisheries Minister on Days at Sea

Monday, 16 December 2013

The annual fisheries debate in the House of Commons has highlighted some of the issues for Scottish Fishing communities. Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster fisheries spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford questioned the Minister seeking a commitment he will not allow days at sea to be reduced further.

Commenting, Eilidh said:

“Once again the big issue will be cod quotas and the flaws in the Cod Recovery Plan (CRP). We know that cod stocks are moving in the right direction, and in fact cod mortality is now at its lowest level since 1963, when assessments started. Fishermen and scientists alike are telling us that cod is more abundant than it has been for 50 years. However, the CRP threatens to derail the progress made in recent years.

“Last year, common sense prevailed and there was recognition that rigid adherence to the plan would be counter-productive. The same applies this year. If the proposed 9% quota cut goes ahead, it will inevitably lead to an increase in discards, which is exactly what we are trying to prevent. In my view, we need to continue following the science—and the science indicates that a small increase in the allowable catch for North sea cod will enable the stock to keep growing and keep our long-term outcome of a sustainable fishery on track. I hope the Westminster Government will promote that objective in the forthcoming talks, and I seek their assurance on that.

“I also sought a commitment from the Minister that he will not let days at sea be reduced any further, and that he will support an effort to freeze this at 2012-13 levels. Automatic reductions in days at sea will not give the fleet enough time to catch its quota, and that can only increase risk to our fishermen.

“A great deal rides on the forthcoming negotiations. As everyone else looks forward to winding down for Christmas, December is a particularly tense and anxious time of year for fishing communities and everyone who works in the fishing industry.”

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