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EU fish quotas dispute meeting arranged
By Andrew Black,

Scottish Press Association

The Scotsman

27th January 2004

Fishing leaders are to have a “make or break” meeting with the Scottish Executive to try and press for changes in the new fisheries deal before it comes into force next month, they said today.

The meeting between the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation (SFF) and acting rural development minister Allan Wilson in Edinburgh tomorrow will come before European Commission talks which could see adjustments to the deal.

SFF Chief Executive Hamish Morrison said he was still hopeful that last-minute changes to the agreement, which he claimed would leave many Scots fishermen bankrupt, would be made be by the Commission.

Scots skippers criticised the fishing deal, agreed in Brussels in December, because they were awarded a bigger haddock quota but no extra time to catch the fish.

The SFF is planning to take court action in an bid to suspend the deal while members of the Scottish Whitefish Producers Association (SWFPA) said a number of its members planned to break regulations governing the number of days they can spend at sea just to survive.

Mr Morrison said today: “This is a make or break meeting for the Scottish fleet. We must persuade the minister to take head on the iniquities of this agreement.

“Fiddling around the edges will not restore the viability and confidence of Scottish fishermen.”

He added: “There is some reason to hope that even at this late hour the Commission can step back from its eccentric management system which will not only bankrupt many vessels but will also undermine cod conservation.”

Mr Morrison said the federation’s advocacy of spatial management had received backing from all the main North Sea coastal states.

He continued: “Indeed Norway has insisted in recording its support in the text of the EU-Norway Fisheries Agreement.

“The situation is that the Commission is isolated but lacks the courage to admit its mistakes.

“For this reason it is likely to cling to its discredited plea, and for the same reason the Federation will press on with its legal challenge.”