The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network

            A charity registered in Scotland - RegNo:: SC039015

Presence on IFGs

Today (10/04/08) we received a response (in blue) from Cabinet Secretary Lochhead regarding a question we had raised with him (in red).

We have responded as follows -

I refer to the reply from Rob Roberts of the Marine Directorate who responded on your behalf to a question (below in red ) from our organisation, the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN).

We’d like to refer to the following in the response "  I hope you can agree that the IFG system can provide appropriate opportunities for RSA interests to influence and contribute effectively towards the development of IFG management proposals. "

We find it difficult to agree to that statement when there is no documented process communicated by which our voice can be heard, let alone influence or contribute to the development of proposals.

This is a cause of great concern to us as over the last 20 years or so, around 10 non-quota/TAC species have become essentially extinct in Scottish coastal waters and many more are under serious threat. The majority of these species are/were of real interest to sea anglers.

These stocks are very unlikely to be given any serious consideration by the catching sector as they offer no revenue opportunity, though are quite often taken as pot-bait and/or are significant discards in the west coast nephrops fishery.

Additionally within his reply, Rob Roberts did not address the core question of  "Why is sea angling perceived so differently in Scotland when its activities make such a significant contribution to the Scottish economy ? " which was based on the proposed reformation of England’s Sea Fishing Committees ( IFG equivalents ) to give sea angling a fairer representation.

Though you agree that commercial and recreational fishermen should work together to realise a well managed marine environment that can be both productive and sustainable we’d be grateful if you could tell us what processes will be put in place to enable us to contribute in a meaningful way and have the issues that really concern us addressed.

ENDS ------

Thank you for your two e-mails of 4 March to Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, regarding Recreational Sea Angling (RSA).  Respectively, your e-mails covered (i) RSA and Inshore Fisheries Groups (IFGs) and (ii) the current study into the economic impact of sea angling in Scotland.  The Cabinet Secretary has seen your e-mails and I have been asked to reply.

I agree with you that commercial and recreational fishermen, along with the wide range of other interests concerned with Scotland’s seas, should work together to realise our shared goal of a well managed marine environment that can be both productive and sustainable.   IFGs represent a key means of doing just this and, as stated by the Minister for Environment at the recent Parliamentary debate on RSA, there is no doubt that sea anglers should have the opportunity to contribute to the work of IFGs.  It is the case that IFGs are concerned primarily with the management of the commercial inshore fishing industry and that their Executive Committees will be made up only of representatives drawn from the commercial catching sector.   However, their work - which essentially is to produce well developed, realistic and credible management plans - must be developed in liaison with all relevant stakeholders.  Of course, we expect that in many, if not all, IFG areas, this will include sea angling interests.   I hope you can agree that the IFG system can provide appropriate opportunities for RSA interests to influence and contribute effectively towards the development of IFG management proposals.   

ENDS—-

For the attention of Cabinet Secretary Lochhead

Following on from the Event held in Committee Room 2 on 27th February, sponsored on behalf of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN) by John Scott MSP (Cons) which was attended by MSPs from all parties and over 25 organisations from the angling, conservation and catching sectors; and the Member’s Debate that evening on John Scott’s motion S3M-1096 on Recreational Sea Angling.

In the debate, Minister Russell stated “Recreational sea anglers should have the opportunity to contribute to the work of the inshore fishery groups.”

As we have always been led to believe that the IFG’s were to be set up so local decisions could be made by local people and would be structured in such a way as to take into account a broad range of stakeholders, we expected a seat at the table for sea anglers, as they and the many businesses and communities dependent on them, will be directly affected by any decisions made by those bodies and their needs should be taken into account.

Sea anglers can also add value by providing input regarding the health or issues associated with the nearshore marine environment, as well as on the many stocks which are of limited, or no interest to the catching sector.

SSACN has spent much time and effort, with this and the previous administration, trying to understand the process and how we may contribute, but contrary to all the messages in the media we have consistently been informed by the Marine Directorate that the national and local IFG bodies are for commercial fishermen only.

One of the expected changes in the English Marine Bill is the reformation of their Sea Fishing Committees (England’s equivalent to the IFG’s) to give sea angling a fairer representation.

Why is sea angling perceived so differently in Scotland when its activities make such a significant contribution to the Scottish economy ? Could it be that Peter Peacock MSP (Lab) was correct when he said - “ ….. perhaps we place disproportionate economic value on one part of the fishing industry and do not regard the economic benefits of the angling industry in quite the same way.”?

We believe the general consensus of opinion in the parliamentary debate and the SSACN event in Committee Room 2 earlier was that sea angling and catching sector interests must learn to work together to promote a sustainable fishery from a common shared resource.

We therefore ask you to think again on the policy of excluding sea angling from the IFG bodies.

ENDS——

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