As someone who relies on the wellbeing of the Scottish fishing community for the success of my business, today I’m optimistic about reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Yesterday the European Parliament voted for wide-ranging changes to come into place from 2014.
This should lead to a much needed power shift from Brussels to regional management of fisheries stocks. The discredited practice of discarding fish to comply with outmoded quota rules should also soon be history.
Scientific experts predict that the reforms will lead to an increase in fish stocks of 15 million tonnes by 2020 and a third more jobs to be created. This could mean 1,300 more jobs in an important sector in Scotland. As a chef, I know how great our seafood produce is. That’s one of the reasons why I came back here and set up my own restaurant.
At a time when the economy is struggling to escape from the doldrums, more jobs in fishing communities will be very welcome.
Scotland has a proud fishing heritage and, freed from a discredited European regulatory regime, the sector can really flourish.
It’s not just about landing more fish. Our processing sector is strong too and we could be adding more value to our excellent produce.
I get excellent feedback about the quality of the produce from foreign visitors. We could be consuming more healthy, affordable fish at home and strengthening Scotland’s reputation as a land of food and drink by exporting more too.
Wholesale reform of the CFP is not quite yet a done deal. That’s up to the Irish presidency of the European Council, who say that they see reform of the CFP as an absolute priority.
They need to knock heads together to get agreement between the European Parliament, European Commission and member states.
My restaurant, Ondine, gets a lot of rugby fans. When the Irish play Scotland at Murrayfield later this month, of course I’ll be rooting for Scotland, but I’ll also be extending a warm hand of friendship to our Irish neighbours and willing them to sort out the CFP for the good of Scottish fishermen and their colleagues from across Europe.
• Roy Brett is head chef at Ondine restaurant.