CONSERVATIVE MEP FOR SCOTLAND

FISHERIES

In a previous life I was Secretary of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, so upon election Conservatives in the European Parliament appointed me Fisheries Spokesman.

I sit on the Fisheries Committee (PECH) and strive to give Fishermen a strong voice in Brussels. The biggest challenge in the coming years will be the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy and tackling over-fishing by Norway, Iceland and the Faroes.

On this page, you will find out more about some of the issues affecting Scottish fishermen, and what I am doing to provide a strong voice for Scotland on the Fisheries Committee.

FISHING IN THE EU

Decisions made in the EU have huge effect on Scottish fishermen, and it is important that Scotland has a strong voice at the table when these decisions are being made.

There are many issues facing the Scottish Fishing Industry at present, the most noteworthy being the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and, from that, the Landing Obligations.

The CFP is a set of rules for managing European fishing fleets and for conserving fish stocks. Designed to manage a common resource, it gives all European fishingfleets equal access to EU waters and fishing grounds and allows fishermen to compete fairly. The CFP was introduced to prevent overfishing and to secure sustainable fisheries and fishing industry. The CFP was first introduced in the 1970s and went through successive updates, the most recent of which took effect on 1 January 2014. It covers everything from Technical Measure (nets/gears/engines) to multi-annual plans for areas of the sea to quotas and Landing Obligations. 

Quotas

The quota for all European Union fishing fleets, is set at the annual December Council of Fishing Ministers which is attended by the UK Fishing Minister as it is the member state that is represented- not the implementing authority. Scotland is represented by the UK Minister- Richard Lochead does not get a seat at the table. There is, therefore, no such thing as a 'Scottish Quota', it is a British Quota, of which the Scottish fleet gets a share of the overall UK one based on something called the Fixed Quota Allocation. However, the quota's are largely based on the scientific advice that is published on all fisheries by an organisation called ICES which is published the preceding summer. Therefore it is almost possible to be able to predict the quotas (roughly) from the date the scientific advice is published.

Landing Obligations

The Landing Obligations are a set of rules that were introduced from January 2015 for Pelagic fish and introduced for most Demersal fish in January 2016. It will require fishermen to land all their catch, (although, crucially not cod, which is to be included the following year) even if it is over their allocated quota. This will create a massive new burden for the industry.

I have repeatedly called for the Scottish Government to live up to its obligations and support fishermen in the storing, icing and transport of this unwanted catch. Scottish fishermen will have a hard time trying to adjust to such a drastic change in their fishing practices and it is still unclear they will overcome these obstacles. I have, for around a year, been trying to meet with Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead to discuss these issues and have regularly highlighted the SNP Government’s failure to support the industry on this issue. The EU has set the minimum that the Scottish Government can do, but not the ceiling.

For full information on the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee (PECH), including details of past and future meetings, please click here. The Fisheries committee also publishes a regular magazine here.

To see fisheries in the EU within the context of the wider use of our seas, please see the European Commission's interactive European Atlas of the Seas.

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