The fishermen in north-eastern Scotland have some strong opinions about the EU. According to Andrew Charles, a seafood processor, “The EU has been devastating for the Scottish fishing industry.” The bloc’s fleet reduction policies have forced many fishermen out of the business.
Recently, the number of Scottish fishing boats fell from 2365 in 2004 to 2094 in 2011. Recently, however the EU has made some policy changes that may just be in the fishermen’s favor. Last week, the European parliament voted by 502 members to 137 to let there be regional control of the fisheries management.
The basis for the complaints are multi-faceted. There are limits on how much fish can be landed, which creates a great deal of discarding at sea. There are also annual catch limit negotiations and too much centralized decision making. Some in the industry, for instance, don’t like that a country like Austria, with no sea fishing industry, has a leading role in the policy making.
As Doug Rennie, vice chair of the Scottish Seafood Association said, “Austria – a landlocked country – what the hell do they know about fish? That’s the sort of thing we’re up against.”