Scottish Government welcomes quota agreement

A NEW fish deal was agreed in Brussels yesterday, which gives better than expected quotas.

The Scottish government welcomed the agreement, which includes a freeze on proposed cuts to the days when fishermen can go to sea, and gains in key quotas. The UK government also said it had secured ‘the best possible deal’.

There are increases for North Sea monkfish (20 per cent) and prawns (15 per cent), and West Coast haddock (14 per cent) and monkfish (20 per cent).

Scottish Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead, said: ‘It is good news for the fleet. It gives much-needed economic stability not just to them, but to our onshore sector and the coastal communities who depend on the jobs the sector provides.’

The big issue at the talks was how to come to terms with the new ban on discarding unwanted fish back into the sea. The ban starts on 1 January.

The practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea increased because of strict EU quotas on which fish could be landed, part of efforts to conserve fish stocks.

In 2009, Scottish vessels were forced by the Common Fisheries Policy to discard almost 28,000 tonnes of fish, about a quarter of the white fish catch, valued at £33m.

The practice was changed after public outcry, reflected in TV shows such as Hugh’s Fish Fight, presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Following the conclusion of the December Council talks in Brussels, Mr Lochhead said: ‘Securing a freeze on proposed cuts to days at sea as well as increases in key stocks is welcome news and will help our fishermen with the implementation of the challenging but transformational discard ban which is being phased in from January 2015 onwards.

‘These valuable and timely increases, alongside the increases already secured in past weeks, and the rollover secured on a number of other key species are in line with scientific advice and show that stocks are recovering and the fleet’s conservation efforts over the past decade are paying dividends.’