MEPS back Conservative support for fishermen over Discard Ban
Conservative fisheries spokesman Ian Duncan has welcomed today's vote in the European Parliament which will give fishermen two years to adjust to new rules banning the discarding of caught fish, but has warned that the Scottish Government must support fishermen to implement the changes.
The discard ban was brought in at the start of this year as part of reforms to the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, and aims to resolve issues around the storage of fish that cannot be sold.
However following an amendment brought in by Dr Duncan, and backed by the Fisheries Committee, member states and fishermen will be given a two-year "grace period" to adapt to the ban.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has been asked to make an annual impact assessment on the implementation and progress of the discard ban.
Dr Duncan has warned that more support is still needed:
"Parliament has ensured skippers will have a two year clear period to adjust to the new rules without fear of heavy handed enforcement.
"However, fishermen urgently need guidance and support so they can fish without fear of breaking the law. Importantly, member states must make use of the flexibility they now have, so fishermen can make a challenging and complex set of rules work in practice.
"The Scottish Government must now tell fishermen what support they will offer to help address issues like shore-side handling, vessel adaptation, and how it will monitor and finance the changes."
Notes to Editors
1. Ian Duncan is the Conservative MEP for Scotland and Fisheries Spokesman for UK Conservatives in the European Parliament
2. Ian was previously Secretary to the Scottish Fishermen's Federation