September 25, 2008

MSP in Talks Over Dumped Fish

By Jenny Haworth

ALMOST a million tonnes of fish are discarded in the North Sea every year, The Scotsman can reveal - about 100,000 tonnes by Scottish boats.

Today, Richard Lochhead, the environment secretary, will say Scots fishermen are being forced to throw away good-quality fish worth tens of millions of pounds every year. The staggering waste will be revealed as he brings together skippers, fishing organisations, scientists and conservationists at a summit in Edinburgh to work out how to put an end to the dumping of marketable fish at sea.

The summit marks the start of a Scottish Government campaign to change European rules that force trawlermen to throw away fish which could be landed and sold.

He will say fishermen are heartbroken at having to dump fish, and warn that discards are bad news for fishermen, consumers and the environment.

Mr Lochhead will be meeting the Norwegian state secretary, Vidar Ulriksen, next week to discuss the issue further and will meet the European fisheries commissioner, Joe Borg, when the latter visits Scotland in mid-October.

Discards will also be high up the agenda during EU-Norway negotiations in November and at the EU Fisheries Councils in November and December.

Earlier this year, Scotland introduced a voluntary scheme in which fishermen avoided areas with high numbers of cod, and secured historic agreement at last December's Fisheries Council to run its own Conservation Credits scheme, which gives boats more days at sea in return for conservation measures.

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