Tough Negotiations Ahead To Ensure Positive Outcome

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP had today (Wednesday) expressed concern at the contents of the Commission's proposals to reform the Common Fisheries Policy.

Whilst welcoming certain aspects of the reform, he expressed worries that the Commission has failed to properly address the fundamental problems of over centralised control and has failed to propose an adequate return of powers to fishing nations and regions.

The proposals also open the door to the international trading of quotas which would devastate Scottish fishing communities and see a concentration of fishing rights in a small number of overseas companies. Mr Hudghton said:

"The Commission's acceptance that the CFP has utterly failed and must be radically reformed is to be welcomed. For too long the CFP's regulations have forced Scottish fishermen to throw fish back into the sea - and efforts to eliminate discards have long been supported by Scotland's fishing industry

"The proposals however still smack of top-down Brussels control. The discards issue is a complex one, particularly in mixed fisheries, and solutions must be found in conjunction with the industry. Instead, the Commission has chosen arbitrary dates after which all fish must be landed.

"The Commission has previously acknowledged that fisheries within the 12-mile zones, which are controlled by the coastal nations, have generally been one of the success stories of the last 30 years. However, they have failed to take on board the key lesson to be learned from this - that the fishing nations themselves are best placed to manage their own waters in co-operation with their neighbours.

"And, whilst the Commission plays lip-service to historical rights, international transferable quotas would render that meaningless. Cross-border trading would result in multi-nationals snapping up fishing rights across Europe - and would destroy our fishing heritage.

"Fortunately these proposals are just the first stage in the process. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers must now make amendments - and it is essential that all Scotland's politicians work with the Scottish government to ensure a positive outcome."

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