Fish talks bring in tough quotas

Scottish fishermen are facing deep cuts in catch quotas after all-night EU Fish Council talks in Brussels.

The west coast is hardest hit, with 25% reductions in catch sizes for cod, haddock and whiting.

There were some successes for the Scottish negotiating team, with proposed reductions to other species scaled back.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has called for reform in the way Scotland’s fisheries are managed.

Bertie Armstrong, the federation’s chief executive, said: “Despite some good negotiating successes, for which the Scottish government team is congratulated, the conclusion of the EU Fish Council has resulted inevitably in a sombre picture for the Scottish fleet with further overall losses in fishing opportunity, particularly on the west coast of Scotland.

“The Scottish fleet has been at the forefront of conservation by innovating and spearheading a number of initiatives such as closed areas and new types of selective fishing gear.”

Quotas down

A proposed 15% reduction in monkfish quota on the west coast was cut to 2%, while proposed 50% cuts for west coast cod and whiting were reduced to 25% each.

There was, however, no change on the original proposed reduction for west coast haddock, which remained at 25%.

West coast prawns, the main catch for the bulk of the fishing fleet on the west of Scotland, were cut by 15%.

Reductions agreed at previous talks were rubber-stamped, including North Sea haddock, which was cut by 5%, and cod which was cut by 20%.

The North Sea prawn quota was cut by 5% – a slight improvement on the original 8%. Quota increases saw North Sea whiting up 15% and a rise in the herring quota of 21%.

Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said it was frustrating that proposals for the west coast were not taken fully on board by the council.

He added: “No-one is satisfied with a system that micro-manages every fishery decision from the Black Sea to the North Sea, from Burgas to Banff, with 27 member states fighting it out.

“It is a torturous process and with a broken and ineffective Common Fisheries Policy, the need for huge changes in EU fisheries management is abundantly clear.”