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Caithness News Bulletins January 2004

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The Highland Council has welcomed the Scottish Executive’s decision to go to public consultation on local management proposals developed by Highland Shellfish Management Organisation (HSMO).

HSMO has prepared local management proposals it seeks to implement via a Regulating Order under the Sea Fisheries Shellfish Act.

The Council has campaigned for devolved management of inshore fisheries and has worked with HSMO, Scottish Natural Heritage and Highlands and Islands Enterprise in developing local management proposals in the Highlands that will help fishermen manage their shellfish resources sustainably.

Vice-Convener Councillor Michael Foxley said: “I am delighted that progress is being made. We have all worked very hard over five years to achieve this by consulting and actively involving our local fishermen. The only future for our inshore fisheries is by sustainable and local management. Ultimately, I would want the Order to include prawns and all the scallop areas.”

Councillor Richard Durham Chairman of the Council’s Land and Environment Select Committee, confirmed the Council’s position, saying: “Inshore Fisheries have come under increased pressure in recent years and now find themselves competing with other activities in coastal waters, including energy developments and aquaculture, for example. As a result fishermen have called for devolved management structures and for greater involvement in the management process.

“The Council feels that HSMO’s proposals deliver this opportunity for inshore waters. We believe that the outlook is positive for inshore fisheries provided that they can be managed more responsively and that fishermen’s representatives are able to oversee the management process. HSMO’s proposals not only provide for local management but also fisheries development of opportunities. It is recognised that existing fisheries legislation is no longer responsive enough to meet the needs of inshore fisheries management and this is why the Scottish Executive is undertaking a review of the inshore management system in Scotland. HSMO expects to contribute significant to the review process and to demonstrate how devolved management can be a success in Scotland.”