Scotland’s fishing industry supports communities all around our coastline and islands. From our whitefish and pelagic fleets fishing out of the larger north and north-east ports, to our inshore and shellfish fleets which bring fishing harbours to life throughout the country. The European Union plays a major role in the regulation of our waters and so it is essential for the Scottish Government to engage effectively in Europe to represent Scotland’s interests.
Scotland’s fishing industry supports around 2,000 vessels employing nearly 5,000 people landed over 366,000 tonnes worth more than £429 million in 2013. With Quota and Effort management, the aim of Marine Scotland is to manage Scotland's fishing opportunities - landings of fish and time at sea - to maximise profitability and contribute to the Scottish Government's aim of sustainability. Scotland's main sea fishing opportunities are set as part of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Negotiating in the European Union
The EU plays a key role for Scottish fisherman by setting the annual total allowable catches (TACs) for all quota regulated species for all European Union fishing fleets. Whilst the focus of this work is the annual December Council of Fishing Ministers, throughout the autumn Marine Scotland fisheries colleagues remain in regular contact with European Commission officials in the build-up to the December Fisheries Council. This is always a complex negotiation and given Scotland’s majority interest in UK fishing, the Scottish Government plays a pro-active and prominent role in promoting Scottish and UK fishing priorities in Brussels.
The Scottish approach is evidence based, with one of Europe’s foremost fisheries research agencies, sited in Aberdeen, providing expert scientific and technical advice prior to and throughout the negotiations. The Scottish Government’s approach is also consultative, working closely with representatives of the industry and other stakeholders, often present in Brussels during these negotiations. Having stakeholders present allows Scottish negotiators to adjust and detail priorities throughout the course of negotiations. Scotland has a strong reputation as an important player in these discussions, both with other Member States and with the Commission.
The successful outcome of the fisheries negotiations last December demonstrates that the efforts of Scottish fishermen to improve stocks are being effective and are recognised by the European Union.