Conservative MEP gathers EU fishing leaders in Peterhead as discard ban and quota talks loom

19-Oct-2015 @ 10:15

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The Conservative MEP for Scotland, Ian Duncan, today joined leading Dutch MEP Peter Van Dalen and the Chief Executive of pan-European Fishing body Europeche, Kathryn Stack, in Peterhead as the Demersal Discard Ban and quota talks loom large on the horizon.

Peterhead is the busiest white fish market in Europe, with over 140,000 tonnes landed each year, at an estimated value of £165m. The next phase of the discard ban, commencing in January 2016, will require fishermen to land all their catch (although not cod, which is to be included the following year), even if they exceed their allocated quotas. Ian has repeatedly called upon the Scottish Government to support fishermen with the storing, icing and transport of catch.

The annual quota talks will take place in Brussels in December, with fishermen hopeful that a good deal will be reached.

Ian, Peter and Kathryn visited Peterhead Fish Market and Port Authority, before meetings at the Maritime College.

Ian commented,

"For many months now Richard Lochhead has ignored my requests to support fishermen. I once again repeat my call to the Cabinet Secretary to back fishermen through this challenging adjustment. The EU has set the minimum that the Scottish Government has to do, but not the ceiling.

"Those on the pier head in Peterhead are preparing well and it is no wonder that leaders from across Europe are keen to learn from the approach of Scottish fishermen. With Scottish Government support they can make the discard ban work, but Mr Lochhead needs to act now.'

'Last month I spent time with Peter Van Dalen in Urk, The Netherland's largest white fish port, and what is interesting is to come here today to compare and contrast how the industry on the continent is preparing for the Discard ban. It is encouraging to see how fishermen across the North Sea are working together to share best practices and solutions, even with government leadership lacking."

Peter Van Dalen MEP added,

"Fishermen in the North Sea are faced with similar challenges regarding the discard ban. That’s why I wanted to come here and learn from Scottish fishermen and, indeed, the Dutch fishermen that are operating from this port about their concerns and possible solutions.

“The Dutch government is actively looking for maximum flexibility in the implementation of the discard ban, because they realize the impact it will have on fishermen. I urge the Scottish Parliament to do the same."

Kathryn Stack said,

"This has been an extremely useful visit with the sector strongly highlighting the main fears over the fallout of Common Fisheries Policy reform including, of course, the discard ban and the very real gap between the fishermen’s experience of fish stocks compared with the scientific assessment and the subsequent draconian management regimes that are then imposed.

On top of this, all the technical rules will be up for review very shortly which will be another testing process for the sector and we are just a couple of months away from crucial decisions on quotas. Given that the European Commission's recent reporting on the state of EU fish stocks was overwhelmingly positive, it is essential that these positive trends are translated into positive quotas which will provide new and improved jobs and business opportunities. Abundant North Sea stocks such as northern hake, cod and plaice have been identified as success stories. In fact, for demersal stocks in the North Sea, Celtic Sea and West of Scotland, fishing mortality rates are amongst the lowest levels registered. We all want to see healthy stocks at abundant levels and now need decision-makers reach a fair and realistic agreement."

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