Major quota increases for UK fishermen
UK fishermen have won significant quota increases in some of the most popular fish species in the last full round of European Union negotiations involving Britain before Brexit.
North Sea cod is up by 10 per cent while there is a 20 per cent increase in monkfish catches. The deal will particularly benefit fishermen in both Scotland and south west England.
In Brussels last night the member states agreed new catch limits for 2018 on more than 50 species.
The increased quotas include:-
- North Sea: cod up by 10 per cent, haddock increased by 23 per cent and monkfish up 20 per cent;
- Irish Sea: cod up by 377 per cent and haddock rises by 55 per cent;
- Eastern Channel: sole quota rises by 25 per cent and skates and rays are up by 20 per cent;
- Bristol Channel: plaice is up by 49 per cent and sole by nine per cent. Stocks of both cod and haddock were accredited this year as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
The negotiators agreed that two thirds of fish in the North Sea and Atlantic fisheries will be subject to sustainable catch limits next year.
The UK government has welcomed the deal while the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation told the BBC it was waiting to study the detail.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the deal would give UK boats fishing opportunities worth more than £750 million in total.
However, Shetland Fishermen’s Association chairman Leslie Tait said that while the deal struck at the was fairly positive for the white fish fleet, European fisheries ministers had rubber-stamped an ‘absurd’ cut in the pelagic sector’s mackerel quota and had again demonstrated the worst of EU fisheries management.
He added that fishermen were looking forward to the day when the UK took control of its own waters.
‘We are sick and tired of the political horse trading over fishing opportunities that goes on every year,’ he said.
‘This has nothing to do with proper fisheries management. We need to get out of the Common Fisheries Policy on Brexit Day One and start making sensible decisions as soon as we can.
‘The day cannot come soon enough when the UK can assert control over its waters and negotiate as an independent Coastal State from a position of strength.’
Mike Park, chief executive of Scotland’s biggest fishing body, the Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA), described the outcome of the negotiations as broadly fair, with some notable disappointments on the west of Scotland.
However, he raised concerns about the antipathy shown towards UK and Scottish government ministers and officials by representatives of other member states and the European Commission.
‘If this was a prelude for the final round of fisheries negotiations next year before the UK leaves the European Union, it does not bode well,’ he said.
‘The other countries are going to have to come to the table with their sensible hats on, rather than insisting that the UK will not get a kilo of the fish that it is legally entitled to take control of outside the CFP.
‘We understand their concerns, but taking a hardline stance is the wrong way to go, especially when we have made it clear that while restoring control we are content to open negotiations on access.’
Alan McCulla, chief executive of Kilkeel based fishing co-operative Sea Source, said the increases for the Irish Sea would contribute additional catches for Northern Ireland’s fishing fleet valued at several million pounds.
‘The vast majority of fish taken from the Irish Sea are now harvested according to internationally recognised sustainability rules and while there is still a long way to go to return fisheries like cod to what they were in their heyday, decisions taken overnight in Brussels represent a very significant step in the right direction.’