FISHERMEN PAST AND present have gathered in Hopeman to reflect on past glories – and look ahead to new rules that will have a marked effect on the lives of current crews.
A meeting of the Burghead and Hopeman branch of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association has allowed current fishermen to swap notes with retired skippers, including the recently elected Heldon & Laich councillor Dennis Slater.
High on the agenda was a discussion on the new rules that see boats banned from discarding any fish they catch, a regulation that is expected to mean much longer hours at sea for crews.
Hamish McPherson is the branch secretary and former skipper of Ardent II before his son took over that role fifteen years ago. He said: “The meeting helped to keep younger fishermen aware of developments and changing industry requirements. The discard ban will have an impact on fishermen here and we are working to adapt to that.
“We also used the occasion to share our stories from throughout the year.”
The meeting at the Station Hotel in Hopeman was the first time the branch had combined their regular annual meeting with a social lunch.
Explaining the discard ban, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “As part of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) it has been agreed that catches of quota fish may no longer be discarded. Instead, all of the catch must be landed and counted against quota. The discard ban, or Landing Obligation, only applies to species subject to catch limits and those subject to minimum size limits in the Mediterranean.
“The discard ban is being phased in over a number years, starting in 2015 with pelagic fisheries, extending to demersal fisheries in 2016, and being fully implemented across all TAC species by 2019.”