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IP/06/1425

Brussels, 18 October 2006

Joe Borg starts two-day visit to northern Scotland

European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg will arrive this evening in Scotland for the first leg of a visit that will take him from Aberdeen to the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland. The visit will start tomorrow morning, in Aberdeen, with a debate with leaders of the UK offshore industries. The focus of the discussion will be the Green Paper on a future Maritime Policy published by the Commission last June. After meeting Scottish Members of the European Parliament and regional representatives, Commissioner Borg, accompanied by Scottish Minister for Environment and Rural Development, Mr Ross Finnie, will travel to Lerwick where he will stay until Friday morning. Following an early morning visit to Lerwick fish market on Friday, Mr Borg will travel to Stornoway before returning to Edinburgh in the afternoon.

Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Borg said: “I have had the opportunity to visit fishing ports in the north-east of Scotland in the past. I am now very much looking forward to travelling to the Shetland Islands and the Western Isles to see for myself the specific challenges and opportunities for the fishing and aquaculture industry of these island communities.”

Throughout his trip, Commissioner Borg will meet with politicians and stakeholders to discuss the issues which are uppermost in their minds. In the case of fisheries, which are of crucial economic and social importance in these northernmost regions, these issues will include preparations for setting fishing possibilities for 2007 (TACs and quotas), the role of aquaculture, the specific characteristics of remote fishing communities and the role which stakeholders can play in developing sustainable fisheries.

Commissioner Borg’s first engagement tomorrow morning will be at the UK Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) Energy Breakfast Meeting in Aberdeen. Mr Borg will address the gathering on the Commission’s Green Paper on a European Maritime Policy. He will then take part in a panel discussion with representatives of the oil and gas, shipping and fisheries sectors. UKOOA is the representative organisation for the British offshore oil and gas industry, and its quarterly breakfast debates provide a forum for leading decision-makers to address an audience of key stakeholders. Mr Borg will explain why the Commission seeks to achieve a holistic approach to maritime activities. Such an approach would combine economic growth and environmental sustainability. It would also allow for a balance to be established between different maritime activities, without privileging any one over the others.

Following the breakfast debate, the Commissioner will go to the secretariat of the North Sea Regional Advisory Council where he will also meet with regional representatives and Scottish MEPs to discuss issues facing the Scottish fisheries sector. Commissioner Borg will then leave for the Shetland Islands, accompanied by Minister Finnie.

The visit in Lerwick will begin with a meeting with local fisheries stakeholders. They will be joined for a roundtable discussion by Scottish Minister for Transport and local Member of the Scottish Parliament, Mr Tavish Scott. This will be followed by formal discussions between Commissioner Borg and Minister Finnie. The party will then go to the North Atlantic Fisheries College in Port Arthur, Scalloway, for a tour of the facilities before dinner with representatives of the maritime sector.

On Friday, the Commissioner will start the day with an early visit to Lerwick Fish Market, where he will be able to see the advanced new electronic auction system in operation. Mr Borg will then depart from Shetland to continue on the second leg of his journey which will take him to Stornoway, in the Western Isles just before noon.

The visit will start with a briefing by scientists on the region's marine ecosystems and the current state of fish stocks. This will be followed by a tour of Stornoway harbour before the Commissioner ends his tour with a meeting with local stakeholders.


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