14.06.12: Common Fisheries Policy
Richard Lochhead made a statement following his attendance at the European Council of Ministers in Luxembourg, which discussed reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
The council saw an agreement that will be put to the European Parliament later this year that would see the eventual banning of discards.
He said: “We need a new way of doing things and, thankfully, the agreement goes some way towards delivering just that.
“I firmly believe that we have an agreement that lays the foundations for the most significant reforms in the history of the Common Fisheries Policy, even if a lot of work and negotiation lie ahead before the new policy becomes law in Europe. I am pleased that the new agreement has been influenced by Scotland’s efforts to radically change European fisheries policy, which I think have been supported by all parties in the Parliament over a long period.
“Last week, I set out my top priorities for reform of the CFP. I explained that the current CFP was broken and that the only means of rescuing our fisheries was to empower member states to work together at regional level; that sustainability must be at the heart of everything that we do, as must our stakeholders; and that the obscene waste of discarding, in particular, had to be addressed for the good of all and the credibility of the EU.
“Given the starting point of the reform process and the constraints that Scotland faces, Parliament can be satisfied with what Scotland has achieved at Luxembourg. It is important to understand that it is one important step on the long road that lies ahead.
Yesterday’s agreement involved member states agreeing a position—not law—to present to the European Parliament.
“The deal that has been agreed proposes to end discarding in pelagic fisheries by 1 January 2014 and to phase in stock-by-stock transition to discard elimination in mixed white-fish stocks and nephrops between 1 January 2015 and 2018. The provision to land all that you catch is part of a wider discards package. It is a complex package that includes an uplift in quotas to reward fishermen, which is important, and a move from the current land-based quotas to catch quotas—in other words, a focus on what is taken out of the sea, not simply what is landed.
“Another big win was a commitment to review the technical conservation fisheries management measures that get in the way of discard elimination, as we all know to our cost. That will be done before a landing obligation kicks in. Again, that is good news for Scotland and the challenges that we face.
“The outcome is challenging for our industry, but I believe that it will be deliverable. Scotland has made great strides on discards reduction and I am pleased that the momentum is now set to continue. Let us not forget what we have achieved in Scotland in recent years. Our co-management approach to fisheries is something from which the rest of Europe can learn, and it is doing so.”
12.06.12: Fair Isle marine protected area
Petitioner Nick Riddiford addressed the Public Petitions Committee on a proposal to create a marine protected area for Fair Isle.
He said: “We have identified the issue as essential for our community development and the socioeconomic stability of the island. We feel that the initiative will assist the Scottish Government in achieving its objectives, which includes a European obligation to have a network of marine protected areas in place before the end of this year.
“We have a proposal for a marine protected area that has been lodged with the Scottish Government body, Marine Scotland. It is our blueprint. We consider it to be comprehensive, balanced and inclusive of all stakeholders. We feel that it has the potential to be a model of sustainable marine management for Scotland to follow. It is a positive proposal. We are saying yes—the whole community is saying yes—when a lot of other communities are currently opposing the development of marine protected areas.
“Fair Isle is a traditional community. There has been a human presence on the island continuously for at least 2,000 years. There is archaeological evidence that indicates that the island has been occupied for at least 5,000 years. Despite that long history and tradition, the island community has always been innovative and forward looking—indeed, we have been at the forefront of sustainable management. We had the first commercial aerogenerator for electricity in the British Isles. It was put up in 1982 and it is still running, along with another one.
“For the past 20 years, 70 per cent of the area has been entered in agri-environmental management schemes. The primary school is an eco-school and it has won all four of its eco flags. We have produced a lot of information for the general public and for tourists on various issues to do with the cultural and environmental values of the island. Those values are all very much linked to maritime concerns.” The committee resolved to continue the petition and will write to a variety of groups including the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
14.06.12: Waste water treatment
Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm asked how many complaints had been made about the Seafield waste water treatment works in the monitoring year following completion of an odour improvement plan.
Stewart Stevenson, Environment and Climate Change Minister, replied: “In the monitoring year that ended on 1 June 2012, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency received one complaint, Scottish Water received 21 complaints and City of Edinburgh Council received 243 complaints. Many complaints related to a specific incident in March, in relation to which remedial measures have been put in place.” In a follow-up question, Chisholm responded: “Given the large number of complaints, despite the fact that option A in the odour improvement plan was supposed to take more than 90 per cent of the local community out of the odour zone, and given the particular failure of option A to deal with peaks of solid effluent coming into the plant, does the Government accept that further investment will be required, and is it ready to take account of that in future financial allocations to Scottish Water?” However, Stevenson said: “Scottish Water has been receiving some £110m each year, which is a substantial investment. The most recent odour problems have been caused by a winter that was substantially drier than normal, which led to a build-up.
A specific issue to do with incorrect storage of sludge in contravention of the site’s odour management plan has been addressed.”