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Scottish fishing industry must slim down

Nov 6th, 2010 | By editor | Category: Scottish Government News

According to a new Independent Panel report for the Scottish Government -  The Future of Fisheries Management in Scotland - the Scottish fishing industry will have to slim down if it is to remain viable in the coming decade.

The Independent Inquiry into the Future of Scottish Fisheries Management, set up by the Scottish Government, has spent 19 months gathering evidence from interested organisations.

Its 149-page report published yesterday contains 24 recommendations, ranging from calls for a reform of the CFP, more regional management, an end to discards, the establishment of long-term management plans, and a national strategy for fishing-dependent communities.

Unsurprisingly, the study found most fish stocks are seriously depleted and, unless the issue of discards is addressed, long-term sustainability will be “seriously prejudiced” as the volume of catches is actually higher than the total allowable catches (TACs) set by Europe and so it recommends adjusting fishing capacity downwards to reduce mortality.

The inquiry warned that, while it can see the industry remaining profitable and structurally diverse by 2020, it will inevitably be a smaller industry than at present.

It also highlighted that the commercial sector has to recognise there are other groups with interests in the marine environment and that it should take more responsibility for marine conservation.

Cabinet Secretary Lochhead said the findings would be fully considered and he was confident that much of what the Scottish Government was already doing chimed with what was in the report, whilst Mike Park, executive chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said: “The report is very comprehensive and I don’t think anyone has had the chance to go through it fully, but many of the recommendations are very sound – that the industry itself would make.”

Extracted from the report’s Conclusions and Recommendations ::

14.4 This approach to management will require the industry to see itself in a very different role - as a leader in the marine environment generally and not as the victim of a crisis. This new approach is also one that the industry needs to take in relation to other stakeholders, many of them new, who have an interest in the wider marine environment. But this vital change in the role of industry requires a corresponding and fundamental shift in the position of government such that some long held positions on how fisheries should be managed and who is responsible for what can be rethought and new solutions embedded. This point is crucial if progress is really going to be made.

14.5 If industry turns its back on the opportunity to change things or if government were to deny industry that opportunity then each must live with the consequences. These consequences include an industry always on the edge, young people turning away from fishing as an employment of choice, declining levels of activity and standards of living, and a government struggling to honour its commitments to the industry and to fishing communities and always being blamed for the state of the fishing industry.

14.6 The Panel is looking to see a new working relationship with the minimum of government intervention and the least possible centrally designed regulation. We consider that detailed rules in relation to gears, closed areas, discards etc. should form part of regional/local long term management plans developed by the industry with the government acting largely as facilitator.

14.7 We do not underestimate the culture change which is required. We are keenly aware of the adverse institutional inertia which characterises most organisations and which creates serious barriers to change. Such barriers will be found equally in science, industry and government establishments. It is important that we understand what these barriers are, how they are created and maintained and how they might be dismantled and the energy and knowledge directed to find a new and constructive way forward.

14.8 Given that sustainability of fish stocks has to be centre stage in any discussions, the Panel has not shied away from difficult recommendations. Our analysis identifies those fish stocks which are in a fragile condition and we recommend that a low F strategy is necessary not just for stock conservation but also for long term viability of certain sectors of the industry. We understand that this will be controversial as it is likely to translate to reduced fishing opportunity for some species, but we consider that those with a real long term stake in the industry will understand and support the rationale. It is important that these proposals are considered with an open mind and not rejected out of hand on the basis of prejudice or preconceived ideas. All stakeholders need to accept the severity of the position for certain species and ensure that they do not react through stereotypical roles and responses.

14.9 We believe that this is an appropriate time to make the far reaching changes in culture and approach which is required since all the major stakeholders consider that the current system is damaged beyond repair. There will still be tough decisions to be made, but they will be made close to home by people who understand the industry and the environment - both physical and cultural - within which it operates.

14.10 We commend this approach which builds on existing good practice in the industry and in Scottish Government but the scale and pace of change has to exceed anything previously undertaken if the opportunity is to be grasped and the future secured.

Full detail at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/11/02103454/16

An STV item on this may be found at here.

Related posts:

  1. Fishing industry voices concern at EU
  2. Better distribution of fishing rights
  3. Clyde Review
  4. Fishing decisions to be de-centralised
  5. Scottish Marine Region – SCF report

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