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Europe urged to follow fish conservation
European fishing nations will today be urged to protect fish stocks by taking a leaf out of Scotland's book and to adopt similar practices to those set out in the pioneering Scottish Conservation Credits Scheme.
At an event in Brussels later today Ministers, government and EU officials, key European decision makers and fishing industry representatives will hear from WWF Scotland fisheries experts about the measures being undertaken by the Scottish Government, fishing industry and NGO's in this innovative partnership to move fisheries management towards conservation. These measures include real time closures, gear regulations and trialling CCTV on board fishing boats. The presentation will be based on a new findings paper to be launched by WWF Scotland today.
Today's event is timed to coincide with the first day of EU Fisheries Council, at which WWF Scotland hopes EU Member States will agree to adopt conservation measures including proposed trials of CCTV cameras on vessels and move from landing to catch quotas in the North Sea.
Louize Hill, Marine Policy Officer at WWF Scotland said:
"Since its introduction in 2008 the Conservation Credits Scheme has played a significant role in helping stocks such as cod to recover. Its success proves the importance of governments, industry and NGO's working towards long-term management objectives in fisheries, ensuring the future sustainability of stocks and profitability of fleets. Simple measures can have huge benefits when they are implemented and enforced adequately. Having all relevant parties involved in the development of these measures has ensured they are adopted willingly."
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"I welcome the publication of this very positive document which is an endorsement of Scotland's leadership on fisheries conservation. WWF have been an integral part of the design and management of the Scottish Conservation Credits scheme, and have played a very valuable role in its development.
"We have already secured the European Commission's agreement to work with us to build on this pioneering scheme, whereby fleets can buy back any loss of days through adopting certain conservation measures to protect cod. Despite the economic downturn, Scotland's commitment to conservation on the fisheries front is unrivalled across Europe."
Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish Whitefish Producers Association said:
"Conservation Credits is Scotland's own unique response to the challenge of protecting North Sea cod while it recovers to sustainable levels. Based on the principles of reward and initiative, which contrasts significantly with the traditional style of command and control, Conservation Credits has created a new understanding and awareness with Scottish fishers that they can, individually, make a difference. I am confident that Scotland's fishermen will continue to lead the way in responsible fishing practices through the development of new initiatives, and collective actions, as we move into 2010."
Bertie Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation said:
"As the process which will reform the CFP begins, it is essential that the Scottish fishing industry and government demonstrate together that effective fisheries management measures can be developed and applied by those closest to the challenges. Continued innovation and determination is required from the industry and government and a leap of faith is required from the European Commission in delegating the essential freedom of action. Conservation Credits has shown by pioneering and introducing such selective fishing measures as real time closures and fishing gear development that effective, collaborative local action can be a blueprint for the future."
Management schemes, such as the Conservation Credits Scheme that improve the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry, are essential to increase fleet resilience. Boat owners and bankers all need predictability, a steady supply of fish and credit. Under the current regime they get neither, as has been demonstrated by the breakdown of the EU-Norway negotiations last week. This will put fishermen in a state of uncertainty and unable to plan intelligently for the coming year. The reform of the CFP is still over 3 years away, but industry cannot wait this long to see real progress. Therefore practical measures must be introduced, such as those in place under this scheme.