The date today is 09-02-09

Fishery closure by the back door

Feb 1st, 2009 | By ssacn | Category: Catching sector

ORKNEY fishermen are extremely upset over the new fishing rules in place for 2009.

They feel the concessions made by ministers in order to claim to have achieved their primary objective of avoiding closure of the west of Scotland fisheries have actually resulted in exactly that.

The key issue is the requirement that cod, haddock and whiting to make up no more than 30% of the catch for white-fish vessels operating off the west coast. Orkney Fishermen’s Assoc (OFA) have said they feel such is impossible to achieve regardless of any gear used and as a consequence, boats working the fishery would inevitably end up moving to the North Sea, putting more pressure on fish stocks there.

Many are considering this a ‘closure by the back door’ in order to protect other fishing interests and save political face.

Minister Lochhead in response has indicated that he fully accepts that the arrangements agreed at the December Council will be very challenging for Orkney white-fish vessels and is looking for the most pragmatic and reasonable way to enforce the new rules.

Scottish Liberal Democrat fisheries spokesman Liam McArthur has written to Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead about the “serious anger” in Orkney over what was agreed at the December Fisheries Council in Brussels and the impact off the west coast.

Mr McArthur said: “Nobody has been able to advise the 35 or so white-fish boats which fish this area, including the Orkney boats, what the other 70% of the catch is to be. They are at a loss to understand how this catch composition can be achieved.

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