Regionalisation success in Luxembourg
After very tough and complex negotiations, EU Fishing Ministers have agreed a package to propose to the European Parliament for a new Common Fisheries Policy, which takes on board many of Scotland's concerns but needs to be strengthened in some important respects over the coming months.
Commenting immediately after negotiations concluded in the early hours of this morning, Scotland's Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead said:
"It's fair to say that only a few years ago this agreement would have been unthinkable and although it can be much improved, it lays the foundations for a radical reshaping of the broken Common Fisheries Policy by introducing regionalisation and tackling the scandal of discards.
"For the past thirty years, a one size fits all, micro-managing fishing policy run by out of touch bureaucrats has inflicted enormous damage on Scotland's fishermen, fishing communities and fisheries. The public will therefore welcome EU Ministers' long overdue rejection of the status quo, which Scotland has argued for consistently and been instrumental in securing.
"Many countries tried to put a spanner in the works and had they got their way that would have been damaging for fisheries conservation with discard bans not in place until 2020 and beyond. So while we are disappointed that our ambitious timeframe was not agreed to, the timeframe set out by the Commission is a significant step in the right direction after more than thirty years of discard inaction.
"It is important to recognise this is not the end of the road. And as this process unfolds there will be ample time for the timeframe to be revised in favour of our more ambitious one. I am proud of the role Scotland has played in securing these initial changes and our constant engagement with the UK Government, the Commission and other Member States has borne fruit and we will continue to seek more improvements as the negotiations progress.
"This is a significant start to a process that must lead to a new era for Scotland's fishing industry, fishing communities and a far more sustainable future for our fish stocks. But the hard work very much starts here."