SCOTLAND’S Fisheries Secretary met with European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki last week to set out his concerns over plans to reform the Common Fisheries Policy.
After attending the AgriFish Council in Brussels, Richard Lochhead met with the Commissioner, his first official one-to-one meeting since being reappointed Fisheries Secretary in May.
He made clear his concerns over the Commission’s proposals for reforming the CFP from 2013 and put forward Scottish examples for delivering workable solutions.
Mr Lochhead said: “I held a very helpful meeting with Ms Damanaki and set out Scottish priorities for reforming an EU fishing policy that has left a trail of damage and turmoil in its wake over three decades.
“We are at a critical crossroads and taking the wrong path now could have very serious consequences for the future of fishing communities in Scotland and the rest Europe.
“Scotland has led Europe in finding solutions that help both the fish stocks and the industry, therefore we have a responsibility to do all we can to help shape new EU policy.
“As the changes in European fisheries policy are decided over the next two years, the Commissioner has assured me that Scottish interests would have a key part to play.
“The Commissioner and I both strongly agreed that the scandal of fish discards – where a precious food resource is dumped dead overboard – must be addressed and there is no going back.
“I urged her to look at the positive work being undertaken in Scotland, where we have worked with industry on solutions that stop discarded fish being caught in the first place.
“I have put our approaches forward as a template for tackling the issue across Europe.
“I welcome the Commissioner’s plans to decentralise fisheries management, but emphasised that this needs to be genuine devolution if we are to move away from micro-management from Brussels – which has been a hallmark of the failed CFP.
“We discussed the Commission’s plans for tradable fishing quotas and my concern that unintended consequences of cross-border transfers could see historic Scottish fishing rights lost forever to faceless overseas based multi-nationals.
“We have undertaken to work closely together in the vital months ahead, on the understanding that fundamental reforms of European Fisheries policy are genuinely on the table.”