Shetland Fishermen’s Association chairman Leslie Tait and executive officer Simon Collins are to meet new EU fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vella in Brussels on Friday 13th March.
They will use the opportunity to press the European Commission on a range of issues, including the need for a gradual, step-by-step introduction of the discards ban for whitefish vessels.
Mr Collins said: “We need to phase in the discards ban or landing obligation because these are extremely complicated changes and we simply cannot have a situation where fishermen operating on a perfectly sustainable basis are put out of business because of clumsy regulations.
“Support for a commonsense approach is growing and we’d like the fisheries commissioner to commit to workable arrangements that safeguard our industry.”
Mr Tait and Mr Collins will also seek the close involvement of Shetland in the development of the Commission’s mixed fishery plan for the North Sea which is due to be unveiled later this year.
Mr Collins added: “Our input here is critical because our fisheries are among the most mixed in Europe and our island economy – not just the fish catching sector – depends heavily on the right outcome.”
Mr Tait and Mr Collins will further raise the issue of Faroese access to EU waters for mackerel, which has enabled them to catch more of the species off Shetland than the islands’ own pelagic fleet.
“At the very least, Faroe should have a smaller quota in our own waters than we do,” said Mr Collins.