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Call for fishing quota change amid boycott

THE "use it or lose" system of fishing quotas should be relaxed while Russia continues to boycott UK goods, the Rural Affairs Secretary has said.

Richard Lochhead met his UK counterpart Elizabeth Truss for the first time since her appointment to discuss the difficulties the Russian trade embargo is causing British fishermen.

Russia is a key market for Scotland's mackerel fishermen.

They have called for the limitations on carrying forward their quota into next year to be relaxed to take account of the dip in trade caused by the embargo.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Lochhead said: "We had a constructive meeting and discussed the impact of the Russia trade embargo on Scotland's mackerel fleet and processors and ways we can help them deal with the immediate and longer term challenge the ban presents.

"In particular I highlighted it would be helpful for the UK to look at export insurance to help the industry with exports to Ukraine and to explore with the EU possible opportunities around banking of quota, as well of course as exploring new markets and increasing domestic demand with consumers and retailers.

"All of which were areas targeted by the five-point plan I agreed with the ­industry in Edinburgh earlier this week.

"This is a really successful sector, used to dealing with changing market conditions and there are lots of avenues for us to explore.

"So the most important thing is that we are fleet of foot and I look forward to pursuing all the options over the coming weeks."

Ms Truss had earlier said the UK Government would "lobby hard in ­Brussels on behalf of ­Scotland's world-class ­fishing industry".

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