MEP fishes for experience on West Coast trip

27 July 2005
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith has completed his two week work experience tour of Scotland with two days on a fishing boat.

Mr Smith left dry land last Sunday night on board the Ocean Trust from Mallaig led by Robert Summers for a first hand lesson in the difficulties facing the fishing industry and fishing communities.

Speaking once he was safely back on shore Mr Smith said

"I really enjoyed the time aboard the Ocean Trust, and am grateful to Robert and his crew for looking after me so well and putting up with my questions. I hope I earned my keep!

"Most of my time was spent sorting the prawns into the different grades, talking to the men on board and seeing how it really works at the sharp end. I even found my sea legs - though it was fairly calm.

"The main problems faced by Robert and his crew were the cost of fuel, and the prawn quota. The cost of fuel has doubled over the past year, cutting the potential profit of every trip in an industry that has enough problems already. The SNP has already put forward plans for a fuel duty regulator which would help to avoid such peaks, and having spent time at sea it is clear that this must be pushed forward.

"As for the quota's, the catch was 99% prawns. It is clear from the practical experience of fishermen, and the scientific analysis that prawn stocks on the west coast are in a good state, and an increase in the quota would encourage this fishery and help all those in the industry.

My time at sea was a great experience and having seen how the industry works first hand I'm now in a better position to defend the interests of Scots fisheries in Europe."