Eyemouth fishermen and other local stakeholders will tell UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore at a meeting in Eyemouth today (12 January) that the fishing industry must be given as much Government support as possible so as to create the optimum conditions to ensure survival.
The Anglo-Scottish Fishermen’s Association will meet with the two Government ministers at the Scottish Borders’ port, where they will underline the parlous situation facing the industry in the wake of the EC December Fish Council that resulted in a further cut in the number of days that fishing vessels can put to sea. Anglo Scottish is a member of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, which has nine Associations in its membership.
David Shiel, Chairman of the Anglo-Scottish Fishermen’s Association and a Vice President of the SFF said: “We are delighted to meet with the two ministers, which comes at a very opportune moment, given the serious threats the fishing industry is currently facing. The same message will come from the industry all round the coasts of Scotland.
“In particular, we want to reinforce the message that the Government must do all in its power to ensure that the economic growth of the fishing industry is a top ministerial priority. Local bodies have noted the severe reduction in the local fishing fleet over the past years which has resulted in Eyemouth having one of the lowest per capita incomes in Scotland.
“The industry is currently burdened with a raft of regulations and controls, which makes it incredibly difficult for our fleet to remain viable, and we will impress upon ministers the need to adopt a sensible ‘light touch’ approach to fisheries management. Because of the different interpretation of legislation North and South of the Border, Ministers were asked to help arrange a meeting with officials to resolve these problems. There is concern that proposed rules regarding days at sea would divert effort to inshore fishing grounds upon which local boats rely. Help is required to allow vessels to divert to other fisheries.
“We also have real concerns at the budgetary cutbacks being imposed in marine science at a time where there is a crying need for greater investment to provide a better understanding of stock biology and also enable the development and innovation of new measures to reduce discards and ensure the continuation of sustainable harvesting.
“The financial climate is extremely difficult at the moment and we want the Government to recognise the importance of prioritising the economic growth of this vitally important heritage industry.”
Meanwhile, Anglo-Scottish will tell the ministers that as a matter of urgency the Government must seek clarification from the European Commission on the scope and timescale of changes being proposed for the Cod Management Plan, so that industry and Government can work co-operatively to ensure full involvement during the consultation and negotiation process.
“The Scottish fishing industry is totally committed to rolling up our sleeves and working hard with both the UK and Scottish administrations in developing solutions and new innovation that will deliver a sustainable future for fishing. But the first step in that process must be the creation of the right conditions and support from Government,” said Mr Shiel.
Eyemouth Harbour Trust’s Business Manager, Christine Bell, said: “Eyemouth Harbour Trust appreciate how busy both Secretaries of State are with their current schedules and we are therefore delighted that they are giving this time and opportunity to the local fishermen and other industry representatives from the port to have direct dialogue with them.
“Eyemouth, like many Scottish fishing ports, is struggling to survive with its diminishing fleet and contraction of fishing opportunities. The current EU regulations are having a gravely detrimental effect on the UK’s coastal communities. It is crucial that the UK Government support the industry at this time.”