Scotland's fishing industry: 'Cautious optimism' from Richard Lochhead

image captionRichard Lochhead wants Scottish seafood to reach premium prices

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead has expressed "cautious optimism" about the future of the Scottish industry.

Fishing industry representatives welcomed the outcome of talks in Brussels on EU fish conservation measures in December.

Now, in an open letter, Mr Lochhead has said there is a "chink of light" for Scottish fishing ahead of more "crucial" decisions in 2013.

However he admits there are challenges to overcome.

Mr Lochhead said: "After years of painful cuts and baffling rules imposed by the EU, some progress was finally achieved last month at the Fisheries Council in Brussels.

"The key is now to keep up the momentum for positive change as we prepare for more crucial decisions in 2013."

He went on: "It's critical we capture the value of every fish landed on our shores.

"Scottish seafood is delicious and high quality - yet that is not always reflected in the price achieved for our fish and shellfish.

"I believe we can secure a premium for Scottish seafood, much in the same way as is achieved for Scotch Beef or Scotch Lamb."

Mr Lochhead concluded: "Despite the obstacles I believe we can be cautiously optimistic about the future of Scottish fishing."

It comes the day after an apprentice scheme to give young people the chance to land jobs in the Scottish fishing industry was launched.

It offers those aged 16 to 24 an entry route into a career on a trawler, with 20 places each year planned.

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