Eilidh Whiteford


SNP MPs Look Ahead to Fish Quota Talks Next Week

Friday, 13 December 2013


This week’s debate in the House of Commons on the Fishing industry, and the key Fishing quota talks due to take place in Brussels next week, have highlighted some of the issues for Scottish Fishing communities. Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, SNP Fisheries spokesperson who questioned the Westminster Fisheries Minister for an update in reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and forthcoming talks commented:

“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 seek 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."

Angus MacNeil MP has also raised the issue of the dumping of Spurdog in large quantities this Autumn . Mr MacNeil SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar said:

"It is unfortunate that a situation has arisen where huge numbers of migratory Spurdog - that are not targeted in the fishery or wanted in the fishermen’s nets - end up being caught inadvertently and that as they have no quota to land them, they are dumped.

“This is because of an understandable concern of protecting the species but has led to unforeseen outcomes, with fish being wasted and in other areas fish being targeted to answer the world demand for those same species. I welcome that the owners of quota will be published in a register next week as promised by the Westminster Fisheries minister, as there is a strong belief in the fishing industry that people who own fishing quota should be active in the industry and not other diverse unrelated enterprises.”

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