SCOTLAND’S Fisheries Minister has been warned that nephrops fishermen face a “bleak future” unless a further tightening of days-at-sea restrictions can be headed off.
Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association chief executive Mike Park said today that a “full and frank” meeting with Mr Lochhead and his officials last night had left the Minister in no doubt of the major crisis facing nephrops, as well as white fish catchers.
Mr Park said that representatives of the association had met Mr Lochhead and his officials last night to discuss the issue of effort for the nephrops sector, given what Mr Park described as the “well- documented, stark decrease” in days-at-sea availability for 2012.
Mr Park went on: “The meeting was open and frank with some very interesting exchanges of views and the work carried out by the nephrops sector over the last twelve months to improve selectivity featured heavily.
“But it is clear that the nephrops sector, and indeed the whitefish sector, face a bleak future unless something can be done to resolve the situation.”
Mr Park stressed that association representatives went into the meeting with some “clear ideas” to resolve the situation, part of which is to freeze any further effort reductions under the ill-fitting cod recovery plan.
Meanwhile the association’s Nephrops Committee Chairman Jimmy Buchan said “The meeting went well given the extent of the problems we face. The good thing is that both parties understand the need to find a solution.
“We have some clear ideas that we will now develop into a full blown proposal with the help of our wide membership.”
Fears voiced by the association are another grim reminder that the Scottish catching sector believes that already tough restrictions facing them in the name of cod recovery will become untenable next year because of European Commission policy which appears to favour tightening the screw on the industry even more, despite real cod conservation gains achieved by fishermen particularly in Scotland.