Eleanor Scott, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has called on the Scottish Executive to draw down more money from the European Union to support fishing communities, and to help them to diversify and build up their resilience to the storms buffeting the fishing industry.
Speaking at the Ullapool Fish Week on Monday, Dr Scott said: “Under the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) there is money available to support the fishing industry through the current difficult period of change, but only a tiny fraction of it has been claimed so far. It looks to me as if the Scottish Executive could be doing much more to help to buffer the industry, and the communities that depend on fishing for their livelihoods. They donʼt need to go cap in hand to Brussels, the money is there and should be requested.”
During the current subsidy regime (2000-2006) the Member States have a total of €3·7 billion for the fishing sector, much of which is from the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG), but by January 2004 only 3% of this had been claimed. Scotland is eligible for at least £55 million.
Dr Scott has also called for an emphasis on using the money to fund socio-economic measures that will help communities to withstand future changes. She said: “Some of the FIFG money is intended to fund socio-economic measures such as diversification and local development of fishing communities. I believe that this is vital funding and a very important aspect of FIFG, and the Scottish Executive should tap into it as much as they can. I am disappointed that only 3% of the total FIFG pot across Europe is being used for such measures, and I urge the Scottish Executive to argue for this share to be increased and to do whatever they can to ensure that communities benefit more from these resources.”
(Note: this item was originally published on Eleanor Scott’s Parliamentary website.)