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White-fish Vessels

Part of Question Time — Scottish Executive — Environment and Rural Development – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 18th November 2004.

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Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat 2:00 pm, 18th November 2004

I am obliged.

I do not accept Ted Brocklebank's first point. The answer that I gave in good faith is based on the number of vessels that have notified the fisheries department of their exclusive use of category 4(a) gears under the terms of the annex V effort management regime. There is little merit in getting into a great debate about this but, in good faith, those vessels have notified us that they are using that gear exclusively, so it is not unreasonable for us, in good faith, to say to Ted Brocklebank that there are 142 vessels.

On the number of days, I was asked the question to which I responded in the context of whether there should be further cuts. My position on the December negotiations is that I accept the proposition that the science on nephrops and haddock is generally good, therefore we must be able to improve on last year's situation, when we managed to separate out the previously held view that there was a one-to-one relationship between cod and haddock fisheries. Having effectively established that principle, we must build on it, therefore we must seek to strike a balance between accepting the need to conserve cod—which clearly remains in a difficult condition—and allowing our fishermen to prosecute the fishery in a way that will give them a viable living.