SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has welcomed a vote in the European Parliament which recognised the policies being implemented by the Scottish government to help Scotland's fishing industry.

MEPs meeting in Brussels were debating and voting on European Commission proposals to deal with discards of unwanted catch. The SNP MEP used the debate to slam the effects on Scotland of the Common Fisheries Policy and highlight the success of recent Scottish government policies in dealing with discards.

Welcoming the vote, Mr Hudghton said:

"MEPs have recognised the success of the approach now being taken by the Scottish government. The voluntary closures scheme - the first of its kind in Europe - is proving effective and workable. It is a far more constructive approach to dealing with the realities facing the fishing industry than anything that's come out of Brussels in recent years.

"We could now see similar schemes being piloted in other parts of Europe and I hope the European Commission will amend its stance accordingly."

Speaking in the debate in the European Parliament, the SNP MEP said:

"The Common Fisheries Policy has been a miserable failure. It has failed to conserve stocks. It has failed to sustain our fishing dependent communities, and it has failed to win public support or credibility.

"One of the principal reasons for that is the scandal of discarding. The CFP quota system does not measure the amount of fish caught - it only counts fish which are landed. The CFP itself is a direct cause of discarding, and I doubt if it will be satisfactorily reformed.

"That said, I broadly welcome this. In particular, I strongly agree with the principle of positive incentives, giving some reward to those fishermen who take steps to reduce or eliminate discards.

"I also agree that measures must be tailored to the different types of fishery - a major flaw of the CFP has been its over-centralised, inflexible approach."

Note:

MEPs meeting in Brussels debate and voted upon the European Commission proposal "A policy to reduce unwanted by-catches and eliminate discards in European fisheries". They supported calls for more days at sea and for pilot projects such as the Scottish closures scheme to be trialed in other parts of Europe.

The scheme was introduced by the Scottish government in September 2007 and allows for voluntary closures of 15 square mile areas for up to three weeks if catches of small cod are detected and reported by onboard observers.

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