The Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association and Shetland Fishermen’s Association today welcomed modest increases in haddock and cod quotas for 2015 agreed between the European Union and Norway.
At the conclusion of talks in Clonakilty in County Cork, Ireland, which set the amount of fish most Scottish boats can catch next year, they said it was a positive sign that the European Commission was starting to recognise substantial growth in these stocks.
However, the associations, which between them represent most of Scotland’s fleet, warned that a huge amount of effort would be required next year to prevent the discard ban, which will be introduced in 2016, wrecking the good work delivered thus far on improving sustainability in the Scottish fishing industry.
For North Sea haddock, the total allowable catch (TAC) has been set at 40,711 tonnes – a six per cent increase on 2014. A transfer from Norway to the EU of a further 2,600 tonnes takes the increase to 15 per cent.
For North Sea cod, the TAC has been set at 29,189 tonnes – a five per cent increase on 2014.
Chief executive of SWFPA Mike Park said: “While the quota increases in key stocks are a positive signal, the Commission and NGOs who have pursued reforms to eliminate discards need to start acknowledging the commitment of Scotland’s fishermen in delivering the recovery of fish stocks. It is now essential that they begin to look forward to a positive future rather than continuing to revisit the mistakes of the past.
“The fishing industry has changed out of all recognition and we are demanding innovative fisheries management to complement the innovation currently going on within the fishing sector. Delivering and maintaining sustainable fisheries and stable stocks is now uppermost in the minds of all fishermen.”
SFA Executive Officer Simon Collins said: “Nobody wants the unnecessary discarding of fish, but the Commission and the NGOs are wilfully ignoring the damage their botched reforms could do to what has become a forward-looking, environmentally-conscious industry.”
The associations urged Commission officials to think more constructively and deliver a fit-for-purpose, dynamic management regime.
The EU-Norway deal is the precursor to the December Fisheries Council which, among other important issues, including discussions on the number of days vessels can fish, will ratify positions reached with Norway.