Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - Mr President, once again we are debating this subject against a background of depression, fear and trepidation in fishing communities, particularly around Scotland, against a background of an almost total lack of confidence in the European Union's ability to manage fisheries at all. We would not be facing so many crises if European management had been a success, would we? Who has a vested interest in restoring stocks to sustainable levels? It is fishermen and fishing communities and only fishing communities. Why then is it continually the case that they feel that their views, their interests, and particularly their expertise, are ignored in management decision-making? Looking from Scotland it is impossible to justify or to accept the apparent inequitability of management decisions of late. Scots are using the largest mesh sizes in all of the European Union and yet are taking the biggest catch cuts, while those using smaller meshes fare better. Once again, we have the threat of complete closure of haddock, whiting, prawn and other fisheries related to cod allegedly. Yet no mention of industrial fisheries which fish for non-human consumption being curtailed. I am considering voting against the Stihler report, not because I am against its content which after all was substantially shaped by amendments of mine that were accepted in committee, but in protest at the likelihood that the Commission will ignore it anyway. It has after all repeatedly pointed out that there is no legal obligation upon it to consult regional advisory councils. In any case there will not be one in time for a cod recovery plan to be adopted. We all know that the Council 's output on this subject will probably ignore our views as well. Member States are very often accused, even by the Commission, of ignoring the science in their determination to defend their national interest in the Council. I just wish that Scotland had a Member State government which would defend its national interest in the fisheries council. Last December the then UK Fisheries Minister continued a long tradition of actively voting against Scotland's interests in the Council of Ministers and the new Minister, who finally managed to get himself to Scotland this week, where 70% of the UK fisheries fleet is based, told fishing communities to get real - presumably asking them to accept that there will be more pain to come because he knows that he will do nothing to help. The social and economic pain being felt by families in Scotland's coastal communities is very real. They know the realities of recent decisions and their effects on them. It is totally unacceptable that the UK Government has absolutely no intention, yet again, of doing anything other than increasing that pain.

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