UK Government Prepares to Abandon Scotland’s Historical Fishing Rights


SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has today (Wednesday) reacted with outrage as it became clear that the UK Government is preparing to abandon the principle whereby fishing rights are allocated to countries on the basis of historical precedent.

In a UK government briefing sent to all MEPs it is claimed that allocating traditional rights to fishing communities “stifles innovative business and the ability to adapt to climate change”. The briefing was sent out ahead of a key vote in the European Parliament tomorrow on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Fishing opportunities are currently allocated under the principle of “relative stability” whereby there is a clear link between individual fishing nations and the waters and stocks they are allowed to fish.

Mr Hudghton said: “The ongoing review of European fisheries policy gives us the opportunity to finally get management issues right. A move away from the centralised structures of the CFP is long overdue and powers should be returned to
Europe’s fishing nations.

“The UK Government however seem intent on abandoning Scotland’s traditional rights. After decades of sell-out by successive London governments, this is one final act of betrayal towards our coastal communities.

“London Labour claim that respect for historic rights ‘stifles innovation’ – at a time when the Scottish fleet is at the forefront of promoting sustainable practices. They claim that it harms the ability to adapt to climate change – when the Scottish government has taken active steps to promote fuel efficiency.

“The debate should be about returning powers to Scotland – not giving rights away. It is utterly shameful that Gordon Brown’s  government are actively campaigning against Scotland’s fishermen”.

Fishing opportunities are currently allocated according to the principle of relative stability whereby individual stocks in specific waters are given to countries according to historical practice. For example, the majority of North Sea haddock quotas are allocated to Scotland – in line with traditional catches.

· The briefing from DEFRA, sent to all UK MEPs states: “Fishing opportunities are based on historic practices which stifles innovative
business and the ability to adapt to climate change.”

The briefing was sent ahead of tomorrow’s vote in the European Parliament on a report on the CFP Green Paper.

The SNP has successfully tabled amendments to this report which state: “historic rights have previously been protected by the principle of relative stability and that any new management regime must retain the benefits to coastal communities that have accrued from relative stability”.

Contact: Ian Hudghton, 07885 254385

Liz Lloyd

SNP Press
Tel: 07841 383 206