The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network

Fish for the Future

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Commercials changing tack on conservation

Scotland’s commercial fishermen are trying on a new mantle as guardians of the resource on which their livelihoods depend.

It has, however, required the white fish and pelagic fleets to be brought to the edge of oblivion and some of the stocks they plundered to be fished beyond sustainable levels for Scotland’s fishermen to change tack and, for the first time in their history take a sustainable approach to fishing and fisheries.

They assert the days of the clandestine landings of "black" fish which bypassed the legitimate quayside auction system - are long gone. They need to be - At one time, as much fish was being sold illegally as was being legitimately landed.

The new system of designated landing ports and registration scheme for buyers and sellers has virtually wiped out the trade since its’ introduction in 2005.

The result, despite dwindling quotas those fishermen who survived the vessel scrapping schemes in 2001 and 2003 are now enjoying financial benefits that have flowed from an industry finally based on a legal foundation.

Fishermen’s leaders have finally admitted what everyone else knew was true;

"There was a lot of fish in the sea and how you upped your income was just to catch more black. The accusations of over-fishing then was a fair one." Bertie Armstrong, chief executive  Scottish Fishermen’s Fed.

Mike Park, a veteran North Sea skipper and chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Assoc, said:  "What we had before was a situation where we took what we could, rather than what we should as an industry. "

Armstrong continued: "But in the early part of this millennium there was general recognition that something had to be done to match capacity with catching opportunity and Scotland grabbed the thistle with two decommissioning rounds." [ Not quite how others remember the rhetoric - SSACN ]

"Now, when most fishermen have an investment of more than £1 million in their boats, people have realized there is no room for short-term profiteering."

Original article here.

SSACN posting on the subject

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