Fish policy blighted by ‘failure’

European rules which oversee Scotland’s fishing industry have been blighted by “systemic failures” and should be overhauled, a report argues.

The study, part of a government-commissioned inquiry on the Common Fisheries Policy, said it had resulted in “gladiatorial” battles over quotas.

Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said the report showed how the policy was crippling the industry.

Scotland is responsible for about 70% of key UK fishing quotas.

The interim report by the Inquiry into Future Fisheries Management said fishermen experienced the “worst aspects of the current regime” and suggested a move to regional management, giving countries more control over their own waters.

Mr Lochhead said the Common Fisheries Policy had been “discredited” by its “fundamental flaws”.

He added: “The energy and effort that the inquiry has put into this authoritative report is clearly evident. It identifies the key challenges and proposes a positive way forward.

“This report will help us develop our response to Europe’s green paper on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy and, longer-term, help us decide how we can best manage our seas once we regain control of fisheries policy.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “No-one should underestimate the real urgency for a major overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy.

“There must be greater regional control of fisheries management and a transfer of responsibility to those best able to exercise it.”

Louize Hill of environmental group WWF Scotland added: “As this interim report finds, current policies are failing to conserve fish stocks and sustain jobs for communities.

“Scotland’s fishermen are in a fantastic position to benefit from a real reform of the CFP, mainly because they are already putting much of what is already being proposed into action on a daily basis.”

The inquiry, set up by the Scottish Government in January, has been asked to report back in 2010.