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Discard talks

Cod: one of the choke species likely to pose a considerable threat to fishermen in the event of a discard ban.

NEW Scottish rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing is to meet with the industry next week to discuss the controversial discard ban.

Responding to a question from Shetland MSP Tavish Scott in Holyrood on Thursday, Ewing said he would be meeting the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation on 24 June.

He also said he looked forward to visiting Shetland “in due course” and meeting local fishermen.

Ewing acknowledged that the discard ban posed “a very serious threat” to the industry and the government was “working very carefully” to address the issue.

The concern surrounds “choke” species, such as cod, which swim alongside other whitefish. Once the “choke” quota has been used up, it chokes off the ability to catch other species.

“I am very well aware this is a matter of extreme importance among the fishing community as a whole and that’s why I am meeting fishing representatives next week,” he told the parliament.

Afterwards, Scott commented: “If the Scottish Government is determined to force ahead with a discard ban it must be flexible and pragmatic.

“Otherwise the consequences on the industry could be very difficult.

“The choke species are ones where quota is limited.

“Fergus Ewing accepted that choke species are ‘an extremely serious threat’ to fishing vessels.

“I look forward to hearing the outcome of his meeting with fishing representatives next week. Sensible progress is needed.

“The SFA have invited the minister to Shetland and I trust that can happen soon.”