CONSERVATIVE MEP FOR SCOTLAND

Scottish Government breaking EU fishing law

21.05.2015.

Ian Duncan MEP has demanded an urgent explanation from the Scottish Government over their refusal to store and transport discarded fish. Ian has been informed by the Shetland Fishermen´s Association that Marine Scotland deny financial responsibility, claiming that it is for fishermen to dispose of the fish, despite it being written into EU Law.

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. Last month Ian brought forward an amendment to the ban, backed by the European Parliament´s Fisheries Committee, giving fishermen a two-year "grace period" to adapt to the ban.

The Discard ban also requires that

“Member States shall have in place measures to facilitate their storage or for finding outlets for [undersized fish], such as support for investment in the construction and adaptation of landing sites and shelters, or support for investments to add value to fishery products”.

Ian had this section written into the rules to relieve fishermen of the burden of disposing of fish, requiring the Scottish Government to provide facilities and support.

Commenting Ian said

´The entire purpose of this section of the Discard Ban was to support fishermen and to reduce the number of discards overall. To find that Marine Scotland are sticking their heads in the sand, again, makes me question how much attention the Scottish Government were paying as this was negotiated. This is exceptionally serious and could lead to the European Commission fining the Scottish Government if they are found to be in breach of EU law, which they clearly are´

´Fishermen should be supported through the Discard Ban, not told by a Governmental agency to sort it out themselves. If Richard Lochhead or Marine Scotland had questions over what the paragraph meant, they should have asked at the time.  Disputing what the law means after it has been adopted is simply not good enough.

'I have written to Richard Lochhead and Marine Scotland demanding an urgent explanation. I will not see fishermen once again left in no-mans land through incompetence or lack of interest´.

Ends

Notes to editors

1. Ian Duncan is the Conservative MEP for Scotland and was previously secretary of the Scottish Fishermen´s Federation. He is Conservative Fisheries Spokesman in the European Parliament.

2. Link to the Discard Ban legislation, known as the Landing Obligation

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2f%2fEP%2f%2fTEXT%2bTA%2bP8-TA-2015-0105%2b0%2bDOC%2bXML%2bV0%2f%2fEN&language=EN