SNP European spokesman on Fisheries, Ian Hudghton MEP, who attended the inaugural meeting of the North Sea Regional Advisory Council in Edinburgh last Thursday and Friday has expressed shock at the fact that Spanish representatives were given full membership and voting rights on the Executive of the RAC. Commenting, Mr. Hudghton said:

"It is astonishing that the Spanish will have equal voting rights with Scots representatives on the RAC Executive.

"This is a further blow to hopes that stakeholders in the North Sea would gain additional influence over management of their own fisheries, and their own coastal communities, without the interference of competing interests.

"The Advisory Council format is far removed from the original concept, supported by the European Parliament, of genuine management bodies with real decision-making power being given to those with fishing entitlement in specific zones, such as the North Sea.

"Westminster and Scottish Ministers are holding out the hope that management powers will be forthcoming in the future - yet EU Commissioner designate Joe Borg has said, in a written answer to our Fisheries Committee, that under the EU Treaties real powers could not be given to RACs.

"I fear that the new RAC will turn out to be a disappointment, a talking shop, and one with a Spanish accent!"

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