Quota gains set to help discard ban

Peterhead Harbour - March 2014
Peterhead Harbour - March 2014

A freeze on proposed cuts to days fishermen can go to sea and gains in key quotas were two of the main wins for Scotland as a package for the next 12 months was agreed tonight by EU Fishing Ministers.

The deal agreed was positive for Scotland with significant increases agreed for North Sea monkfish (20%) and prawns (15%), West Coast haddock (14%) and monkfish (20%) and Rockall haddock (113%).

Across a broad range of stocks including skates, rays and ling – where 20% automatic cuts were proposed – a rollover was secured. Some key stocks such as west of Scotland prawns, saithe and whiting were subject to some cuts.

This year at the December Council, unlike previous years, key North Sea stock quotas had already been agreed in the EU-Norway and EU-Faroe negotiations that have already concluded which provided increases in key North Sea cod (5%), haddock (6%) and plaice (15%) giving much needed stability for the fleet.

Commenting as talks concluded shortly after 9pm, Scotland’s Fishing Secretary Richard 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. We have secured increases in eight of our ten most valuable stocks across the North Sea and west of Scotland.

“Over the past few weeks and months I have been making a plea for Europe to give greater urgency to preparing for the implementation of the landing obligation (discard ban) and stressing how we must look at developing 21st century tools, and modern management plans, to provide a workable solution to ensure successful implementation of the ban.I am pleased that the need for flexibilities to help prepare for the discard bans in Scotland’s complex fisheries are beginning to be acknowledged. And I look forward to continuing discussions on wider management options.”