Scottish gains at Euro fish talks

Talks to decide fish quotas at the December Fisheries Council have achieved results for the highest value stocks: North Sea prawns, monkfish and megrim.

Despite the recent postponement of the EU-Norway negotiations, interim quotas have also been agreed for stocks such as North Sea cod, North Sea haddock and mackerel to ensure fishermen can continue to go to sea while the talks are concluded.

The Council has also given the green light for ‘catch less, land more’ trials, which Scotland has been promoting as a way of rewarding fishermen for their conservation efforts. In return for catching and discarding less, fishermen will be allowed to land and earn more.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“Given the challenging backdrop, these were always going to be tough talks. We have fought hard for our fishermen and the outcome will offer some degree of comfort to parts of our industry.

“After long negotiations, working with the UK, we have achieved gains for some of our most valuable stocks and secured interim arrangements to ensure stocks shared with Norway can still be fished.

“We have also secured support for ‘catch less, land more’ trials – another example of Scotland showing international leadership on conservation.

“We do not pretend that life will be any less tough for some vessels, particularly in the whitefish sector. Further cuts in days at sea, agreed before this Council, will be challenging but as we did last year we will work with our fishermen to enable them to buy back days in return for signing up to conservation measures.

Quota cuts, on top of draconian technical measures re-imposed in November, will make life difficult on the west coast but we have successfully negotiated action to ease the pain, including days at sea exemptions, quota flexibility and a re-examination of the emergency measures.

“We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the industry to support them through these difficult times.

In the new year we will begin working with them on the detail of a longer-term recovery plan and we will increase our efforts to return more decision-making powers to Scotland.

Fishing policy made in Brussels is bad for Scotland and we will shortly be setting out our response to proposals for European fisheries policy.”

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