Scots anger over prawn swap deal – Fishupdate.com

Scots anger over prawn swap deal Published:  21 March, 2007

Bertie Armstrong

THE Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) today reacted with fury over a quota swap deal that will result in some of the UK’s North Sea prawn quota going to Germany in return for sole to aid English small boat fishermen.

As reported on FISHupdate.com last night, Defra has agreed a deal with Germany to swap 1.5% (375 tonnes) of the UK North Sea nephrops share for 150 tonnes of sole to be given to under 10m vessels in the Southern North Sea which have been particularly hit by the impact of by-catch limits for skate and ray.

The Scottish Federation said nephrops or langoustine is a key target stock for the Scottish fleet, fished by a well organised fleet which has made every effort, including heavy financial investment in quota, to abide by the rules and develop this sustainable fishery.

And they were particularly angry that the deal was agreed without any warning or prior consultation by UK fisheries officials with the Scottish industry.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, said: “We are astonished that this was done without any reference to the industry that actually fishes the quota. International swaps are not in the least unusual, but the general condition is that everyone agrees to the arrangement. This is an unconsulted fait accompli.

“Germany has not been involved to any degree in this fishery, with only a tiny quota, but this hands entry into a market that was painstakingly developed by the Scottish fleet.

“The problem of disappearing catching opportunity for the southern North Sea 10m and under fleet has been addressed by taking from Peter to pay Paul – it’s a bit like a burglar coming into the house of a person who has worked hard and invested in their property only to be told ‘I’ve not got much, so I’m taking some of what you have’.

“Catching opportunity is a finite resource and the problem has been caused by lack of regulation and control of the10m and under fleet. Having developed now into a crisis because of action to conserve endangered species, we find for the second time in recent history the responsible and rule-compliant langoustine fleet having their catching opportunity reduced to compensate. It looks all the more disappointing when compared with the Scottish whitefish fleet reaction to reduced catching opportunity – a 65% reduction by decommissioning.”

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