SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has commented on the crucial first-reading debate and vote on reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy. MEPs will gather in Strasbourg to consider the Rodust report, as amended after a lengthy process of consideration and compromise in the Fisheries Committee.

Mr Hudghton commented:

"Everyone now recognises that the CFP is broken and that radical change is needed. Fishermen have known this for years but we finally have general acceptance amongst politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels that things can't go on as they have.

"Next week's vote marks a critical stage in the reform process. The parliament's draft text isn't perfect but it contains some important elements. We must move towards a decentralised system where the fishing nations themselves take the decisions, with politicians working in full cooperation with the stakeholders.

"There are some key worries ahead of the vote however. The German socialist MEP responsible for steering the reform through parliament is attempting to resurrect a clause that requires each member state to close 10% of their waters to all fishing. Scotland has one of the largest territorial waters in Europe and to completely close a tenth of that would be devastating.

"There are also Spanish and French interests who would be happy to torpedo the whole reform. These challenges must be faced down.

"It is therefore essential that Scotland's MEPs retain a united front and ensure that a radical result is achieved in Strasbourg."

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