What’s in it for fishing? Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong weighs up the main contenders in next week’s general-election
In a mini-manifesto the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation launched for the 2010 general-election, one of the key elements we proposed was for there to be greater regional control of fisheries and decentralisation of management.
To a limited degree this is now happening under the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) but there is still a long way to go.
This election has the potential for outcomes which result in a move to reform our relationship with the European Union.
Whatever happens, all the main parties seem to support the general principle of greater regionalisation. Future moves to negotiate the devolution of further powers from the centre of Europe will benefit fishing and have our support.
In overall terms, we would like the future government to ensure there is a sensible balance between the twin aims of marine conservation and having a profitable fishing fleet.
There must be the over-riding recognition that our fishermen are sustainable food producers who deserve the full support of government at all times.
Labour says it wants to “create a world-leading food, farm and fisheries sector that creates better-paid jobs and apprenticeships across the rural economy”. There are also commitments on continuing devolution and changing the relationship with the EU.
It says it is engaging with the industry to review quota management and wants to ensure quota is managed in the common interest, and that measures are put in place to encourage the next generation of skippers. It also says it will continue to work with the industry to make sure the discard ban does not damage the fleet.
The Conservatives pledge to defend “hard won” CFP reforms and will reform the quota system so that all species will be fished sustainably by the end of the next parliament. They say they will continue to devolve the management of fisheries to local communities and will seek to renegotiate our position within Europe.
They say they will fully implement recent reforms of the CFP, working with the industry and others to develop a national plan for sustainable UK fisheries and give fair treatment for the inshore small boat fleet.
The Greens promise to work with local communities, scientists and conservation groups to expand the UK’s network of marine conservation zones to create areas specifically for the protection of mobile species and reference areas which are off-limits to fishing and other “extractive” activities.
UK Independence Party
UKIP will leave the EU and withdraw from the CFP, establish a 12-mile zone around the coastline for UK fishermen and create a 200-mile exclusive economic zone. They pledge to work with fishermen to solve discard and landing issues.
The Scottish seafood industry, including fishing, aquaculture and processing, generates nearly £700million annually and employs more than 14,000 people.
Its importance to our coastal communities is undeniable and the next government needs to make sure there is a cohesive framework in place for the sector to grow and prosper.