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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
New EU fish quota deal agreed
Fishing leaders have given a cautious welcome to a new European deal on quotas despite a further round of cuts to the amount they are allowed to catch.
EU ministers have agreed a deal whereby there will be a 10 per cent reduction in North Sea cod, haddock and whiting catches next year.
West coast haddock quota was cut by 25 per cent, less than expected, while there was a 10 per cent increase in permitted catch for megrim, a flatfish similar to sole.
There was an agreed rollover of quota for the £46.9 million North Sea nephrops industry, part of Scotland's most valuable fleet and a 15 per cent cut in the west coast prawn quota.
The Fisheries Council also gave the green light for trials of a ‘catch less, land more’ system which would see fishermen land more in return for catching and discarding less.
The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) said the deal presented the industry with severe challenges for the coming year but conceded that the outcome could have been much worse for trawlermen.
Bertie Armstrong, its chief executive, said: “While the final situation could have been worse, given the original proposals on the table, there is no doubt that the Scottish industry will be facing another tremendously challenging year, with there being a continuing downward trend in quota for many species and further restrictions on days-at-sea.
“Hopefully, some of the pain will be alleviated as the recession bottoms out and recovery begins, which may lead to an improvement in prices at the market.”
Mr Armstrong said many of the original cutback proposals had been softened following pressure from the SFF and a “strong performance” by UK and Scottish ministers.
Ministers agreed to tackle the problem of ‘discards’, fish that are caught but have to be thrown back because they are outwith the allowable quota.
Trawlermen are to be encouraged to fit three CCTV cameras to their boats as part of a pilot scheme, in return for an extra five per cent catch.
The monitoring system would provide checks on the reliability of the science on the state of fish stocks as well as the illegal dumping of unwanted fish.
Negotiations between the EU and Norway on how much fishing will be permitted in each others’ waters have not yet concluded, meaning quotas have not yet been finalised for certain stocks.
Interim quotas comprising 65 per cent of the 2009 deal have been set ahead of further talks in January.
Richard Lochhead, Scottish fisheries minister, said: “Working with the UK, we have achieved gains for some of our most valuable stocks and secured interim arrangements to ensure stocks shared with Norway can still be fished.
“We do not pretend that life will be any less tough for some vessels, particularly in the whitefish sector.
“We will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the industry to support them through these difficult times.”
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