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Ian Hudghton
Scottish National Party
Member of the European Parliament

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Press Releases
16 October 2003
Hudghton praises Shetland fishing campaign


SNP Member of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee Ian Hudghton says he is “very impressed” by the commitment of Shetlanders to protect their fishing industry from further cuts.  He says he’s received a “steady flow of letters” over the last couple of weeks from Shetlanders calling for pressure to be put on the British government to:
 

  • Pull out of the Common Fisheries Policy

  • Gain local control of our fishing waters

  • Bring an end to industrial fishing

  • Put scientists to sea with the fishermen so that they can work out a common strategy to conserve stocks

Commenting on the campaign, Mr Hudghton says that the letters show clearly the firm resolve amongst Shetlanders to ensure that fishing in the islands has a sustainable future.

In his response, Mr Hudghton sets out the Scottish National Party’s views on the CFP and has confirmed the SNP’s commitment to scrapping the Common Fisheries Policy and to bringing control of Scotland’s fishing waters under the direct control of the Scottish Parliament in recognition of the importance of fishing to the Scottish economy.

His response goes on to criticise the way in which decisions are taken in the EU, effectively shutting the door on Scottish interests:  In his letter the MEP writes:

“I have been a member of the Fisheries Committee for all the time I’ve been in the European Parliament and have always fought hard to protect Scotland’s fishing sector.  Amongst the many issues I have raised are the benefits of zonal management, retention of the Shetland Box and the end of industrial fishing.  I recently won a vote in Parliament on technical measures which, if implemented, would effectively ban industrial fishing.

“MEPs, however do not have the final say on such matters.  Final decisions are reached behind closed doors at meetings of the Fisheries Council which are attended by the Westminster Parliament’s Fisheries Minister.  The Minister from the Edinburgh Parliament can attend but it is the London Minister who always leads the UK delegation.”

Turning his attention to his political opponents, Mr Hudghton goes on to say:

“The Labour and Liberal Democratic Parties have made it clear they want us to remain within the CFP, even though they have proved they are incapable of protecting Scotland’s interests time and again.  Meanwhile, the Tories, who now want to come out of the CFP have to accept full responsibility for getting us into this mess in the first place.  It was, after all, Ted Heath who, as Tory Prime Minister, signed away Scotland’s fishing industry when he took the UK into the Common Market in the 1970’s.  Remember too that the Tories gave their support to last December’s disastrous review of the CFP which has decimated Scotland’s fishing industry.

“Scots fishermen have already taken a very responsible stance on issues of conservation, and have borne the brunt of previous quota cuts in a bid to create a sustainable future for the industry.  Sadly, neither the Commission nor Fisheries Council has been prepared to give credence to the efforts already made by our fleet.  Their inflexibility in permitting an assessment to be under-taken on the effects of conservation measures adopted by the Scottish industry has been disappointing in the extreme. 

“Those who depend on our fishing industry have been let down badly by Westminster for many years and more recently by the Labour/Lib-Dem Executive in Edinburgh.  We need Ministers who are going fight Scotland’s corner in the meetings of the Fisheries Council, not, as so often happens, throwing in the towel.  We always hear from Tony Blair that Scotland is safer remaining part of the UK in our dealings with the EU.  The effects of the CFP on Scotland’s fishing industry, and the failure of successive UK governments to protect it, leave that argument threadbare.”

Mr Hudghton is urging Shetlanders to get full square behind local and national campaigns to protect Scotland’s fishing communities and says the force of public opposition to further cuts can only strengthen Scotland’s case in the battles ahead in the European Parliament.


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