The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network

            A charity registered in Scotland - RegNo:: SC039015

Letter from Richard Lochhead - Cabinet Secretary

The following are the key items of interest extracted from a response I got from Mr Lochhead after asking a series of questions through my local MSP.

Extracts ::

First of all, I should make clear that I fully recognise the role of RSAs as stakeholders in the fishing sector. I appreciate the role that RSAs can play in the development of our economy, and it is also important that their voice as well as that of commercial fishermen is taken into account in the management of Scottish fisheries.

To make sure that we have a fuller picture of RSAs sector, I have recently commissioned a study on the impact of RSAs on the Scottish economy. Studies have been undertaken of RSAs sector in both England and Wales but since no comparable work has been done in Scotland little is known about the characteristics and preferences-of sea anglers or about the- scale and location of sea angling around the Scottish coast.

Further, as a result of our policy objectives to diversify the economies in our coastal communities, there is growing interest in the economic development constraints and opportunities provided by activities such as sea angling in these areas. This study is therefore intended to provide such information. Representatives of the RSAs sector are on the steering group overseeing this study.

My officials met your constituent and other stakeholders from the RSAs sector on 24 July in Kirkcudbright in conjunction with one of the Taking Stock exercise events. I understand that the meeting was very productive and a number of issues previously raised by RSAs were discussed, including their concerns about stock levels of certain species (porbeagle, skate, tope and spurdog), a possible joint research project between RSAs and FRS, RSAs contribution to the economy, RSAs representation at IFG level and improved lines of communication with my officials.

On RSAs representation at IFGs level, I should stress that first and foremost commercial fishermen should be at the core of the IFG structure since the IFG concept is about the management of inshore fisheries pursued on a commercial basis. This by no means implies that RSAs will be unable to input to the decision-making process at IFGs level.

I believe that working in partnership with a wide range of interests can only be to the long term benefit of IFGs’ operation, affirming stakeholders’ confidence in a system that both affords commercial fishermen a central place and that is genuinely participative by taking into account the views of other stakeholders. This process will ensure that IFGs management plans are built on strongest possible foundations, and also enjoy credibility within the wider stakeholders’ community.”

My officials have just concluded their visits around the Scottish coast in connection with the Taking Stock exercise and I am aware of the representational issues raised by RSAs and other stakeholders. The findings of this exercise are currently being analysed, and I will make a decision on how to progress IFGs and ensure that decision-making processes on marine management are duly inclusive and participative later this autumn. I can assure you that RSAs views will be taken into account when considering the way forward on this matter.”

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