Fisheries council is bad news for Shetland Published: 21 December, 2006
FISHERMEN leaders in Shetland have expressed their deep disappointment after the EU fisheries council slashed the number of days local whitefish boats are allowed to fish by a further seven per cent.
The outcome of the talks in Brussels, lasting two days, was described as “the best possible deal” by Scottish fisheries minister Ross Finnie.
But the chief executive of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, Hansen Black, said the deal didn’t reflect the improving state of fish stocks,including cod.
Speaking from Brussels, Mr Black said: “We are very disappointed that the number of days at sea for our fishermen has been cut again. There is a continued downward spiral, which is the most disappointing aspect of it.”
Depending on the gear they use, whitefish trawlers in the North Sea are currently only allowed to fish 15 days a month. Cutting this by seven percent reduces the number of days by a whole day per month.
Mr Black continued saying that that the increase in the monkfish (10
percent) and haddock (5 per cent) were welcomed, but the cut in the cod quota, agreed earlier in December, further complicated the management of a mixed fisheries.
He said: “On the quota site of things it really is a mixed bag, the bonus being monkfish and haddock, but with a decrease in the days at sea it will be difficult to manage.”
He added that the evidence from the local fleet was that fish stocks were recovering as plenty of small cod were seen by fishermen.
All the good conservation work carried out by the industry over the last years was not reflected in the deal on TACs and quotas for 2007.
“The reduction in North Sea cod is very disappointing at a time when there seems to be a lot more cod on the ground.
“We now just have to battle on for another year to make sure that this
downward trend is arrested, because there clearly is a mood of optimism in the whitefish sector that has not been reflected at this December fisheries council,” he said.
The local whitefish fleet has reduced in size by around 50 per cent over the last five years and is now down to 20 vessels.
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