Scottish shellfish creelers and divers have joined a pan-European coalition to push for “fairer representation” for the inshore fleet.
The move sees nine fishermen’s associations from across Scotland under the umbrella of the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation (SCFF) bolster the clout of small-scale fisheries at European level.
It also sees the membership of the Low Impact Fishers of Europe (Life) mushroom to more than 4,000 active fishers.
The coalition works to promote the interests of its members by pushing for the proper implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy to grant priority access to fishers who have the least impact on the environment and add the most value to local fishing activities.
It also works on behalf of its members to grant the right to fish to those who fish responsibly, end “harmful” subsidies and reduce overcapacity without endangering small-scale fisheries.
SCFF national co-ordinator Alistair Sinclair said: “The majority of Scotland’s inshore fleet is small-scale and low-impact, and yet our interests have historically been marginalised.
“For too long, regulations have favoured larger vessels and allowed unsustainable fishing to threaten the health of our seas and the livelihoods of low-impact fishermen.
“Profits from the fishing industry are now being captured by increasingly remote interests, with little consideration for the people who fish our waters and the places they live.
“In a world of complex supply chains, we want to see more money stay in the pockets of our small-scale and low-impact fishermen.”
He added: “It is vital that Scottish fishermen have a strong voice where it matters and by joining Life we stand with fishermen across Europe who face the same challenges as us.”
Life executive director Jerry Percy said: “The Scots have a passion and tradition for fishing that can lend strength to the fishermen who are now beginning to speak up with one voice.
“With the support of many of Scotland’s creelers and divers, there is now a growing number of active smaller scale fishermen pushing for reform.
“Fishermen across Europe have suffered from industry consolidation, bloated supply chains, perverse subsidies and unfair distribution of quota.
“Meanwhile, our coastal fishing communities struggle to get full value from their hard-earned catch.
“Together we can push for measures to fundamentally rebalance the industry, ensure that we promote the interests of our active, low-impact fishermen and in so doing better respect the resource that we all depend on.”