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Ian Hudghton MEP today commented on 'Hugh's Fish Fight' campaign, which was highlighted last night on Channel 4. The programme highlighted the issue of discards, affecting Europe's fishermen as a direct result of the EU Common Fisheries Policy. Mr. Hudghton has received many messages from outraged constituents, demanding that action be taken on discards and fisheries management reform.
Speaking from Brussels Mr. Hudghton said,
"The subject of discards is not a new controversy, and it is true to say that the discarding of perfectly marketable and nourishing fish is one of the greatest scandals in Fisheries management under the EU Common Fisheries Policy.
"The opportunity afforded by the currently ongoing process of CFP reform must be grasped if we are to transform the failed CFP into a workable system of management. In my view we should scrap the CFP and start afresh, with a return of real management power to fishing nations such as Scotland.
"We could then devise and implement conservation measures based upon the actual situation in logical sea areas, such as the North Sea, with only those nations with fishing entitlements having a say on management rules. Under such a framework, those with most to gain from successful conservation of fish resources would have the incentive to conserve, knowing that they would benefit from the success of stock conservation in future years.
"The Channel 4 programme rightly pointed out that representation at EU level, including on CFP Reform, is a matter reserved to the UK Government. I hope that the attitude of the current UK Government will be very different from that of the Tory government of Edward Heath. He described our fishing communities as "expendable" when he agreed the terms for the UK's entry to Europe and the CFP, thereby instigating a flawed Policy which has failed to conserve our fish and has betrayed our fishing dependent communities.
"The SNP Government of Scotland is speaking out, and acting, against the discarding of marketable fish. In spite of restrictions imposed by EU policies, Scotland has pioneered a system of 'catch quotas,' whereby participating vessels land all the fish they catch without wasteful discards. I hope that this example will become the norm in fisheries management, rather than an exception.
"Achieving radical reforms, at EU level, of the type which I would like to see will not be easy, but I hope that Hugh's Fish Fight will help to motivate more UK and EU politicians to back major reforms."
Ian Hudghton MEP has made many contributions to fisheries debates over the years. A couple of his speeches in the European Parliament, with particular reference to discards 'Hugh's Fish Fight', as broadcast on Channel 4 can be viewed in its entirety on '4OD'.