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Brussels talks

FISHERMEN leaders from Shetland are in Brussels to lobby commissioner Karmenu Vella on the need for a more gradual introduction of the discards ban for whitefish boats.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association chairman Leslie Tait and executive officer Simon Collins also seek close involvement in the development of the mixed fishery plan for the North Sea which is due to be unveiled by the European commission later this year.

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.”

He 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.”

They 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,” Collins said.