Flexibility on days at sea unveiled

New incentives have been proposed by Marine Scotland to increase catches of valuable Monkfish and Megrim – while boosting cod conservation.

Fishermen have highlighted that days at sea restrictions, applied under the EU’s Cod Recovery Plan (CRP), have had the effect of forcing them to fish in cod-abundant waters closer to port, rather than taking the time needed to seek alternative species in deeper waters, like Monkfish.

As a result, catches of Monkfish have reduced by 27 per cent since 2009. In 2011, this meant that some £2 million of Scottish quota went unlanded.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “While we were successful in fighting a draconian cut by Brussels in the days at sea available to our fishermen in 2012, what we are still seeing is that the restrictions in place mean fishermen are struggling to catch their full quotas for some species.

“This concern has been raised by fishermen, in particular those in Shetland. That’s why we have proposed the sensible step of transferring unused effort from the prawn fleet to whitefish boats.

“This change will help enable fishermen to fish their unused Monkfish and Megrim quota, while avoiding cod-abundant waters – where the risk of being forced to discard cod would be higher.”