2. The Future Vision for Scottish Fisheries
2.1 More or less at the outset of our deliberations the Panel began to construct a vision of Scotland's fisheries in 2020 both to guide our thinking and to serve as a reference point against which future developments might be judged. Our vision is based in part on aspirations - our hopes for the industry, coastal communities and the marine environment - but also moderated by a sense of realism and an awareness of the difficult circumstances surrounding Scotland's fisheries in the years to come. Our vision for Scottish fisheries in 2020 is based on the achievement of sustainable fisheries managed through a precautionary, ecosystem based and science led management system and reliant on the incentivisation of the fishing industry rather than on restrictive regulation . It comprises three main elements (i) the fishing industry; (ii) the marine environment; and (iii) coastal communities. A vision for each of these three elements is outlined below.
2.2 The fishing industry characterised by:
i. a profitable, competitive but smaller and structurally diverse fishing industry, fully accredited in relation to responsible and sustainable fisheries and in continuing balance with available resources;
ii. a modern, technologically sophisticated fishing fleet with low carbon footprint, complemented by efficient primary and secondary processing capacities;
iii. a focus on producing high quality products for domestic and export markets;
iv. landings made through an extensive, well distributed and efficient network of quality controlled, fully integrated landing points;
v. minimum levels of discard of mature and juvenile commercial species and of incidental bycatch of non-commercial species;
vi. an absence of direct subsidies to the catching and processing sectors and the partial recovery of science and management costs from a stable and profitable industry; and
vii. sound proactive leadership capable of formulating and implementing a coherent strategy for the industry's future development and of ensuring coordination across all sectors.
2.3 The marine environment where:
i. marine ecosystems are productive, diverse and well integrated;
ii. commercial and recreational fishing can coexist and prosper alongside marine environmental conservation;
iii. fishing activities are subject to the same standards of environmental scrutiny as applied to other maritime activities;
iv. negative impacts of fishing activity on the ecosystem, through damage to sensitive habitats and endangered wildlife species, are reduced to a minimum;
v. there is acceptance of the need for carefully chosen, scientifically justified and well managed networks of marine protected areas to assist the protection of vulnerable habitats and species;
vi. there is recognition of 'essential fish habitats' (including key spawning, juvenile and adult feeding grounds) to be protected from fishing and/or other forms of maritime activity.
2.4 Fishing communities where:
i. fishing based activities continue to support vibrant, resilient and resourceful coastal communities, especially in remoter rural areas;
ii. fishing can continue to yield regular, reliable and well remunerated employment;
iii. individual, family, cooperative and company ownership of the industry's assets can coexist;
iv. individual skills and professional attributes of fishing as an occupation are recognised and developed through education and training;
v. the identity, status and livelihoods of fishers are valued and respected; and
vi. opportunities for renewal of social capital in the fishing industry are maintained through succession and inheritance or the recruitment of new blood.
2.5 We recognise that it may not always be possible to achieve all aspects of this vision simultaneously and that some trade off between economic (industry) and social (community) objectives may be deemed necessary. In general, however, we believe that achieving an efficient fisheries sector for Scotland as a whole can be reconciled with the goal of sustaining a resilient network of fishing related coastal communities.
2.6 To indicate how the vision can be realised we also outline our conception of the system of management through which:
i. an integrated and adaptive 'net to table' approach is guided by objectives that secure: sustainable fish stocks in healthy, diverse and productive ecosystems; efficient, profitable and competitive fishing industries; and an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities;
ii. clear, precise and prioritised objectives give a strong sense of direction and coherence to the management approach;
iii. the best available scientific knowledge and advice informs all decisions;
iv. a duty of care for the marine environment and respect for other legitimate users of the marine domain is recognised;
v. a full and effective community engagement in all development initiatives is assured;
vi. reductions in the burden and complexity of fisheries regulation is achieved;
vii. the decision making process observes the principles of good governance in respect of transparency, proportionality and accountability and responsibility for decision making is devolved to the most appropriate level;
viii. objectives led approaches involve the fishing industry as a partner in the management process, responsible in large measure for the development of fishing management plans; and
ix. producer, based organisations are able to ensure that landings of fish will, as far as possible, match market demands in terms of regularity of supply, catch composition and quality.
2.7 It will soon be apparent that there is a significant gap between the present state of Scotland's fisheries - the stocks, economic performance and governance (Part I) - and our future vision. Reform of the CFP (Part II) can take us some way towards realising the vision but much will depend on how far Scotland is willing and able to cope with the future challenges and remodel its own approaches to fisheries management with the guidance of the Scottish Government (Part III).