Eustice says UK in ‘final stages’ of fishing quota negotiations
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Bosses also pleaded with Ministers to help them rebuild UK fishing fleets as EU vessels continued to have “full access to UK waters”. Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “The Prime Minister has spoken previously of an El Dorado of fish from 2026 onwards but we are seeking a commitment from him to deliver much better opportunities for the Scottish fleet in the meantime as well as in the longer term.
“In the short term it will be a case of survival for the industry, but we want to thrive, and to ensure that we can build back this industry we need to start planning now.”
Fishing leaders have also called for reforms to “flawed science” put forward by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea which is causing British fishermen to lose out on fishing for key species including cod.
The Council provides unbiased scientific advice to Governments including the UK on how to manage fishing stocks effectively.
One example includes Northeast Atlantic mackerel which saw stocks increase from 857,000 tonnes in 2017, then down to 318,000 tonnes in 2018 and then back up to 922,000 tonnes in 2019.
Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association, said: “Lack of fishing opportunities for our key commercial species at a time of abundant stocks is holding the whitefish fleet back severely, and it’s about to get a lot worse because of over-zealous faith in flawed science.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of accurate science has become glaringly obvious, yet in our sector jobs and income for the fleet are at risk from partial, single-source science that is totally at odds with what skippers see daily on the grounds and is never subjected to independent review.
“We need scientific evidence that can command the trust of everyone to help deliver secure and sustainable fishing.”
In response, a Defra spokeswoman said: “We are committed to supporting the UK fishing fleet and levelling up the industry and coastal communities across the UK.
“The UK and the EU agreed a historic Fisheries Framework Agreement that reflects the UK’s new status as an independent coastal state, and works to protect and promote the rights of fishermen across the UK.
“We have committed up to £23million to support fisheries businesses in Scotland and across the UK – and a further £100million has been dedicated to rejuvenating the industry and coastal communities in the longer term.
“We will continue to work closely with industry to help them access the labour they need.”
The Prime Minister, along with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Scotland Office minister David Duguid and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, met with the heads of a number of fishing organisations this week to discuss the Post-Brexit issues on fishing.
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During the meeting, Scottish Seafood Association chief executive Jimmy Buchan told the Prime Minister the Brexit deal “had fallen far short of expectations”.
The Scottish fishing sector previously saw delays in exporting goods when red tape imposed by the deal caused tailbacks at Dover.
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