Fishermen face going out of business if politicians insist on driving down cod quotas next year at a time when the stock is abundant in the North Sea.
That was the stark message delivered today by James Anderson, skipper of the Alison Kay (LK 57) and chairman of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA).
Based on a formula bitterly contested by the SFA, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) is recommending a 10% cut in the North Sea cod quota next year.
This is despite that fact that a 30% increase in quota would still allow the stock to grow substantially in size. Even doubling the total allowable catch (TAC) for 2022 would allow the stock to grow by 24%.
“There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamics at play here among the powers that be,” said Mr Anderson while fishing south of Foula.
“There has never been so much cod out here. And because cod is part of a mixed fishery you can’t help but bring it up your nets.
“But because the quota has been slashed over the years you quickly catch your fill and that has a knock-on effect, preventing you catching other species for which you still have quota.
“It’s ridiculous and totally unnecessary, the sort of decision that could only be taken by a politician who doesn’t understand and not someone with practical experience.
“It is going to send boats to the wall. Younger crews who have taken on a lot of debt to finance their boats and gear will really suffer.”
Mr Anderson said there was far more cod on the grounds than in the late 1990s when the cod quota was 10 times the size it is now.
“The irony of the situation surely can’t be lost on our own governments, when they enter into the negotiations that will take place based on the ICES advice.
“The choice is clear – a successful fleet or one that is emasculated because of utterly misguided decision making.”