1.1 In the summer of 2008 the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment announced his intention to establish an independent panel to enquire into the future of fisheries management in Scotland. The background to his decision was the growing dissatisfaction felt throughout the Scottish fishing industry with the Common Fisheries Policy ( CFP ). The terms of reference for the inquiry were to develop alternative models of future fisheries management best suited to the circumstances of the Scottish fisheries sector and which also optimised the benefits for coastal communities and the marine environment. Although meetings were held in 2008 on two occasions to review the current state of Scotland's fisheries, it was not until the appointment in January 2009 of Alan Campbell, former Chief Executive of Grampian Regional Council and Aberdeenshire Council, as chairman of the inquiry that work was able to begin in earnest.
Throughout the inquiry's duration the panel has comprised:
- Ian Boyd - Professor of marine science at the University of St Andrews and Director of the Scottish Oceans Institute. He is a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
- Kjartan Hoydal - Secretary of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. A marine ecologist by training he has held various posts in fisheries science and management in the Faroe Islands and elsewhere.
- Jennifer Russell - Over 12 years experience in economic development, including work on development of peripheral communities in Europe.
- David Symes - Reader Emeritus in the University of Hull: a social scientist with an interest in fisheries management systems in Britain and Europe.
- Sandy West - An active fisherman from 1956 and a skipper from 1965 to 1992. Currently manager of the Don Fishing Company (Macduff Branch) and formerly a director of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation.
Such experience has ensured that the inquiry has never been short of informed opinion and this was greatly strengthened by the invaluable contributions of many in government, the industry and other stakeholder interests during the evidence collection. The synthesis of such knowledge has allowed for all issues surrounding the Scottish fishing industry to be investigated from a variety of perspectives. As a consequence it is our view that the course charted for Scotland's industry over the next 10 years is appropriate, required and achievable.
The evidence collecting exercise gave the panel a unique insight into the range of perspectives, positions and solutions that are being contemplated by Scotland's fishing industry and other marine stakeholders. Informed by this, the panel has been able to work without assumptions of what an outcome must be and how it must deliver sustainability.
1.2 Through the report we will explain how we have come to an understanding of the condition of the Scottish fishing industry and why we think this condition has been reached. We will continue, not by offering a short term solution to today's issues, but by explaining clearly how the challenges that are already emerging will affect Scotland's fishery for the next decade. It is only by making the Scottish industry ready for these challenges that we will deliver a sustainable and profitable industry and this is why we will set out how we think the Scottish Government and industry must ready themselves for the future.
1.3 The fishing industry occupies a special place in the history, culture and economy of Scotland and is integral to the very warp and weave of national life. With only 10% of the UK population, Scotland boasts around 70% of the UK fishing industry. This attests to
the greater scale, significance and value that the industry has in Scotland in comparison to the rest of the UK .
1.4 There are areas of Scotland where, for generations, fishing has not just been the main source of employment but also the driving force for social and community life. Scotland, with its large and productive fishing grounds, its cultural and historical attachment to the fishing industry and its position in the north west margins of the European Union, feels the impact of marine policies more than almost any other European nation.
1.5 Regulations and restrictions, aimed at preserving fish stocks imposed by the CFP , have left the Scottish industry feeling considerably oppressed for a number of years. In particular, the impact of the CFP on the whitefish, or demersal, fleet in Scotland has often been portrayed as draconian, complex, confused and unnecessary. The result of measures restricting catch quotas and the days at sea for fishing is fewer vessels and fishermen and a negative impact on the livelihood of fishermen. For that reason the management regime in Scotland has been under a great deal of scrutiny and adverse comment from the industry, its representatives, community representatives and politicians.
1.6 In addition, there has been an increasing global awareness that many stocks of commercially fished species are being exploited at unsustainable levels by fleets of growing technological sophistication. Widespread concern for the marine environment is increasingly identifying practices which are regarded as a threat to the ecosystem and fish stocks. Some fishing practices including discarding of illegal and unwanted catches are cited by environmental organisations and the fishing industry alike.
1.7 There is therefore a sense of real concern and uncertainty amongst the fishing community and particularly in the whitefish sector. Although the Nephrops sector is much stronger in terms of stocks, there has been a drop in profits as markets, particularly in the rest of Europe, have been adversely affected by the world economic recession. While the pelagic sector has remained strong in terms of value and profitability it is highly specialised. It is also sensitive to the vagaries of international negotiations as is currently the case with ongoing disputes on mackerel management. The need for very large scale investment in terms of quota and vessels with a capital value of over £20m makes it nigh on impossible for new entrants to become established in this fishery.
1.8 The Scottish National Party minority government came into office in May 2007 maintaining its long held position that the CFP must be replaced. This centralised model of management was portrayed as being detrimental to the interests of the Scottish fishing industry and to fisheries dependent Scottish communities. The stated aim of the new government was to restore a much greater level of national control over the management of fisheries within the Scottish fishing zone and involve a significant level of stakeholder involvement and co-management with the industry.
1.9 One of the first actions the government carried out in bringing about this vision of fisheries management was the establishment of the Scottish Fisheries Council ( SFC ). This body was created to bring to the forefront the view of stakeholders on the current state of the fishing industry. The role of the SFC is to achieve its four stated objectives:
- sustainable seas
- a vibrant, confident and profitable fishing industry
- a successful and reputable product
- sustainable coastal communities.
1.10 In April 2009 the European Commission launched a Green Paper on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. As any future model of fisheries management would involve close working with the European Union, regardless of future constitutional arrangements, the Panel recognised the importance of taking into consideration the areas of reform being addressed.
1.11 The Scottish Government invited the Panel to provide an Interim Report in a response to the Green Paper. The function of this Interim Report was to inform and guide the thinking of the Scottish Government in the production of their own response to the Green Paper. The Interim Report of the Inquiry into Future Fisheries Management was published on
21 September 2009. It was received as an authoritative document and widely circulated to marine stakeholders both in Scotland and across the European Union. Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead, commented upon the succinct nature in which the Interim Report exposed the failings of the Common Fisheries Policy and welcomed the positive solutions offered to these systemic failings.
1.12 A number of other major issues have dominated the fisheries scene including the recent economic downturn, depleted stock levels, scientific uncertainty and sustainable communities. All feature prominently in the report. Each component of the broad marine stakeholder base sees a different set of issues as the key contextual factor affecting the future of fisheries. It has been the role of the Panel to look beyond any narrow focus and to take all factors into account paying particular attention to how each relates to the others. In doing so the Panel has taken a holistic approach to the creation of recommendations on how the future for a successful, sustainable Scottish fishery can be brought about. The recognition that all issues relate to one another has been identified in our recommendations that chart the way towards what we believe to be a sustainable future.
Programme of work
1.13 Early in the proceedings of the Panel a programme was agreed that would facilitate a greater understanding of all issues surrounding fisheries and the development of recommendations which would deliver our particular vision of the future for fisheries management. This is set out below and the work programme followed by the panel is set out in Box 1.1.
1 Context and direction
(a) specify future goals of what is required in a management system
(b) review of information and statistics relating to Scottish fisheries
2 Evidence gathering and assessment
(a) carry out a wide range of interviews of those involved in the fishing industry in a range of locations and across all sectors
(b) testing understanding from interviews against realities experienced day to day
(c) review of management systems and of governance arrangements
3 Development of options
(a) discussion of all information gathered and structuring of report
(b) gain understanding of external relations
Box 1.1 Programme of Work
Consultations on objectives and strategy for a future management system: written responses
Review of previous work prepared by Posiedon
Witness sessions held in Shetland, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow
Bilateral meetings with stakeholders including catching sector, food sector, scientists, managers, MSP s etc: presentation of Interim Report to SFC ; attendance at conferences in London, Edinburgh, Brussels and Copenhagen; outlining the structure of the final report
Drafting of final report, including presentation of preliminary findings to SFC
Publication of final report on The Future of Fisheries Management in Scotland