Letter: In praise of fleet

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) says its efforts to improve the industry have been met with limited recognition or reward (your report, 7 December). While we can't offer anything by way of the latter, RSPB Scotland certainly recognises many fishermen's commitment to fishing sustainably and improving the conservation of the seas.

We applaud the Scottish fleets which have been certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, and those boats taking part in initiatives to avoid discards and respect closed areas. Much of the industry has engaged in what the SFF itself calls "conservation culture". The public, politicians, and NGOs should all support them in this.

RSPB Scotland also support sour government's "catch less, land more" initiative to stop the chronic problem of discards - dumping dead fish back into the sea. Many in Scotland feel that initiatives such as catch quotas, while useful, are simply tinkering with a broken system - the common fisheries policy.

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When the heat of this month's fisheries negotiations is past, Scotland - fishermen, government and environmentalists - must focus on the reform of the CFP. This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to get to the heart of the problem.

With our marine environment under increasing pressure, and many seabird populations suffering severe declines, the Scottish Government must ensure that fishing and all other marine industries are genuinely sustainable to safeguard Scotland's incredible natural wealth.


RSPB Scotland

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