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Scottish fishermen welcome new report on recovering fish stocks

Scottish fishermen have welcomed a new report which highlights that most major whitefish stocks have increased in Scottish waters since the mid-2000s while fishing pressure has reduced significantly.  The report – Trends in Scottish Fish Stocks 2016 – produced by the NAFC Marine Centre UHI in Shetland draws upon the most recently published data from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) on the state of commercially important fish stocks in waters around Scotland.  The report shows that the general overall picture is of increasing abundance of stocks and declining levels of exploitation, with some stocks at historically high levels.  Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “We are delighted this report confirms the general trend of increasing fish stocks in Scottish waters. Much of this recovery can...
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Calls for project ideas for second phase of fishing gear discards reduction initiative

Skippers, trawl makers and gear technologists are being urged to participate in the second phase of projects now being called by the Gear Innovation and Technology Advisory Group (GITAG) to develop and trial innovative new types of fishing gear aimed at reducing discards. Four projects were successfully completed in the first phase, the results of which offer scope for further development into practical gear solutions for discard reduction. Phase two will involve the industry and gear technologists coming together to develop and assess further trials with the purpose of assisting skippers maximise the potential of their ideas and meeting their responsibilities under the discard ban. This phase will also look to work with all sectors to develop gears that will offer a choice of options and solutions over the coming years. Funding of £1.08m has been secured by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation’s (SFF) subsidiary company SFF Services from the Scottish Government and the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund for phase two, which will run until 31 December...
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SFF lays out Brexit fishing requirements to Commons Select Committee on exiting the EU

At an evidence session of the Commons Brexit Select Committee today (19 December) at Aberdeen University, Bertie Armstrong from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and  Michael Bates from the Scottish Seafood Association together  laid out the considerable prize that Brexit will bring for sustainable food production and the revitalisation of coastal communities.   The principal points made in response to questioning were: ·         A return to the normal condition, under International Law, of beneficial stewardship of the seafood resource in the extensive and very rich Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)surrounding our nation.  Presently, 58% of the fish and shellfish caught in our EEZ are taken by non-UK EU boats.  As explained to the committee, this is far from normal when compared with Coastal States such as Norway.  Rebalancing this would simply be a return to normality that would produce real...
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EU Fisheries Council sets 2017 catching opportunities

The EU Fisheries Council to finalise catching opportunities for 2017 concluded early this morning (14 December) in Brussels with quota increases for many key fish stocks for the Scottish fleet, reflecting the general improving trend of our fisheries. Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said: "Overall, this is a positive outcome for Scotland which underlines the sustainable fishing practices adopted by the fleet. The agreement will bring welcome economic stability to Scottish fishing communities over the coming year. "We enjoyed a good working relationship with the Scottish fisheries minister and his team during these negotiations which aided the process." Quotas going up include North Sea cod (+17%) and whiting (+17%), both of which come under the umbrella of the discard ban next year and these figures include quota uplifts to help fishermen cope with the management regime. Also increasing in the North Sea is saithe (+53%), monkfish (+20%), hake (+12%) and prawns (+46%). North Sea haddock is down by 46% so...
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EU Fish Council – a reminder of the deficiencies of CFP

The following commentary by Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, was published in the Press & Journal on 12 December 2017 The annual EU quota negotiations are always a rather fraught affair and an abject reminder of the glaring deficiencies of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Fishermen’s livelihoods depend on the outcomes of these talks to decide upon the catching opportunity for the following year. Over the course of two or three days there are frenetic talks among the ministers of all 28 EU states, with compromises tabled when agreement can’t be reached, followed by more convoluted negotiations. Alliances are formed by groups of countries to press their cases – sometimes to our advantage but other times not, and so the talking goes on. EU ministers and civil servants eventually fumble their way towards a final compromise and usually in the early hours of the morning a deal is reached. In short, fishermen’s futures are decided in a high...
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Scots fishermen express disappointment at EU-Norway blue whiting catch arrangements

Scottish fishermen have expressed their extreme disappointment at the blue whiting catch arrangements for 2017 finalised at the EU-Norway talks for shared stocks which concluded in Bergen tonight (2 December). The agreement, which the Scottish negotiating team voted against, will see an increased access arrangement for Norway, which will enable them to catch 68% of their blue whiting catch allocation to the west of British Isles (compared to 61% before). On top of that, there will be an additional transfer of 110,000 tonnes of EU blue whiting to Norway in comparison to the previous 75,000 tonnes figure. Ian Gatt, president of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “We are extremely disappointed at the outcome for blue whiting as it will disadvantage the Scottish pelagic fleet during the coming year.” The outcome of the talks also saw a significant drop in the haddock quota due to a readjustment that needed to be made to accommodate a previous error in the scientific assessment. However, there will...
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Scottish Fishermen’s Federation scoops green energy award

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) scooped a prestigious Scottish Green Energy Award for its work in enabling the fishing fleet to diversify into the offshore wind sector. The SFF and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) were jointly nominated by Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd for the ‘Contribution to Skills’ award in recognition of their efforts in enabling active participation in the offshore wind sector in the Moray Firth. This was achieved through the adaptation of support services originally developed for the oil & gas industry for use in the offshore wind sector. Aided by SDS, this included the upskilling and training of fishermen to participate in such work. Commenting on the award, John Watt Operations Director/Industry Advisor for the SFF said: “Winning this award in conjunction with Skills Development Scotland is a tremendous achievement that reflects the ability of our fishing fleet to adapt their skills-base to meet the support requirements of the offshore energy sector.” The winners of the Scottish Renewables Scottish Green Energy Awards...
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UK fishermen’s federations adopt united stance on Brexit

The UK’s two main representative organisations for commercial fishermen – the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) – have agreed upon common principles to ensure the best possible deal for coastal communities in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. The two federations met in Edinburgh on Friday 25 November and agreed the key outcomes they want to achieve from negotiations to leave the EU. Fishermen across the UK have welcomed Brexit as providing a historic opportunity to secure significant economic benefit to coastal communities once the UK regains control of its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). At the meeting between the two federations, it was agreed that they would seek the following outcomes from Brexit:
  • Fairer shares of catching opportunity for UK vessels.
  • Full control over access to the UK EEZ by fishing fleets.
  • Creation of a fit-for-purpose management and regulation system, including a grass roots revision of fisheries management based on sustainable harvesting and sound science.
  • Establishment of mutually beneficial trading...
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Mackerel – Scotland’s marine gold

fresh_mackerelThe following article by John Goodlad, chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group, appeared in The Scotsman newspaper on 11 October 2016. If you take a look at the new £5 Scottish bank note now coming into circulation, you will notice the design on the reverse side features a couple of mackerel. A rather strange choice one might think, but on further reflection it soon becomes clear that the mackerel is a perfect subject for the design because it is such an important fish to Scotland. Yes, the humble mackerel, the fish many of us will remember from our childhood days catching by the bucket load from the end of pier with a string of feathers, is one of the pillars of the Scottish economy. It is quite a remarkable transformation too because up until the 1970s the mackerel wasn’t really of much commercial importance. Indeed, in times long past, the mackerel was not...
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Brexit will help our coastal communities prosper

pittenweem-inshoreBrexit will deliver a sea of opportunity that will reinvigorate coastal and island communities and turn Scotland into a world class seafood harvesting nation, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), told guests at  tonight’s (2 November) Federation annual dinner in Edinburgh. Speaking at the event, attended by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and a wide cross section of Scotland’s fishing industry, Mr Armstrong said Brexit, if handled in the right manner, would deliver tangible benefits to coastal communities. “Our 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has some of the best and most productive fishing grounds in the world,” he said. “Regaining control of our EEZ will bring real benefit to coastal communities, not just in the catching sector but in processing and all through the supply chain in the form of increased economic activity.” more Comments are closed