Rural Economy Secretary sets out priorities for annual negotiations.
The UK Government must ensure the interests of Scottish fishermen are fully represented at the annual negotiations, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has said.
Mr Ewing will attend the annual Agrifish Council in Brussels on Monday, which decides fish quotas for 2018. The UK Government negotiates on behalf of the whole of the UK industry.
Next year marks the last year of the phased implementation under the Common Fisheries Policy of the landing obligation for whitefish stocks, which requires that fish must be landed and counted towards quotas. This year’s Council will also include a discussion on how the landing obligation will be fully phased in 2019.
Mr Ewing said:
“Scotland is strategically placed to have the biggest and best fishing industry in Europe and is home to one of the largest fishing ports in the UK, so it is crucial the UK Government puts the post-Brexit uncertainty to one side, and focuses on the day job of championing the interests of the sector, both onshore and offshore.
“A good deal would mean more flexibility for both vessels and fish quotas. While we are committed to reducing fish discards, we need to ensure that landing obligations works for Scottish fishermen.
“This is also an opportunity to discuss the future and how we prevent our fleets from being tied up early when the landing obligation is fully phased, and how we can take a more effective and flexible approach post-Brexit.
“At a domestic level I will also urge the UK Government to provide clarity that unjustified top slicing of our whiting quota will cease with immediate effect, given the significant quota increases on North Sea Whiting.”
Ahead of the Council the Scottish Government is calling for:
- Increases in cod by-catch levels on the West of Scotland to deliver better management ahead of full implementation of the landing obligation
- More geographic flexibilities for vessels to support the landing obligation
- Adjustments to quota for West of Scotland prawns and Northern Shelf Ling
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