Fishing (East Neuk)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Rural Affairs and the Environment – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 28 June 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Iain Smith Iain Smith Liberal Democrat 2:15, 28 June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive when it last met representatives of the fishing communities from the east neuk of Fife and what matters were discussed. (S3O-377)

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

There is regular dialogue between the Scottish Executive and representatives of the Fife fishing community. My officials met Fife Fishermen's Association on 1 December to discuss quota management issues, and on 11 May Fife Fish Producers Organisation was represented at a Scottish Association of Fish Producers Organisation meeting. In addition, Fife Fishermen's Association is a member of the Scottish inshore fisheries advisory group, which last met in March. I am looking forward—as are my officials—to the open meeting with Fife fishermen on Monday 9 July, at Anstruther, to discuss further the management of inshore fishing.

Photo of Iain Smith Iain Smith Liberal Democrat

I am sure that the issues that will be discussed at the meeting on 9 July will include the quota for the nephrops fishery, which I know the minister is aware is important in the east neuk. Will the minister urgently review reallocation of the nephrops quota from the producer organisation sector—which is not being fully taken up—to the non-sector fleet and under-10 metre sector, which desperately need additional quota? Will he also assist the long-term sustainability of the east neuk fleet by agreeing to consider a trial reopening of the commercial sprat fishery in the Firth of Forth? Finally, can he explain why his department has withdrawn funding for the post of south-east Scotland inshore fisheries group co-ordinator?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

First, I recognise how crucial the nephrops quota is to Fife fishing communities and to communities in the member's constituency. I clearly want to be careful before swapping quota from the producers' organisations to the under-10 metre sector and non-sector fleet. However, we have secured swaps from elsewhere, which have provided more quota for the rest of the year. I am sure that the member will welcome that. We accept the need to provide stability to those sectors in the Fife fishing communities and to have long-term planning.

I am happy to consider a trial reopening of the sprat fishery and will get back to the member on that. If he wishes to write to me with more details on why that should go ahead, I will be grateful to hear his views.

On the south-east Scotland inshore fisheries group co-ordinator, I am reviewing the way forward and taking stock. I certainly support the principle and want the inshore fisheries groups to go ahead, but at this stage we are taking stock because groups' being set up has been slower than expected.