‘Working with the leaders of the Fisherrow fishing community was one of the most productive and rewarding aspects of life as an MP for me during the 1970s.
‘It was then that we joined the EC, or Common Market as we called it, and a few years later after Labour was elected to power in 1974 we had a referendum which confirmed our membership. Fisheries was the area of greatest controversy for many of us.
‘These are hard times for the Scottish fishing industry. We do need action to conserve those stocks which are at risk, and help others to recover, or there can be no sustainable future for the industry.
‘On the 20 March 2001, the European Commission published a Green Paper on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It has long been apparent to many that the CFP, in its current form, has been failing on two main fronts. It fails to preserve stocks of fish and it fails to safeguard the livelihoods of the fishing industry.
‘The fishing industry in Scotland accounts for 70% of all fish landed in the UK, from an industry employing some 7,000 people directly and up to 40,000 people in the wider industry. Although fishing accounts for just 0.2% of the UK’s GDP, the majority of the UK’s fishing interests is located in Scotland and is an important element in the economy of many coastal communities.
‘The Common Fisheries Policy is due for review in 2002. The Government is clear on its priorities for the review. Government committed to retaining features of the CFP such as the national quota system and access restrictions within 6/12 mile limits. But seeking improvements in four key areas:
- Improve fisheries enforcement
- Apply effective controls on fishing effort
- Integrate environmental considerations more fully
- Improve the regional management dimension’