EARLY agreement has been reached on North Sea fishing quotas for next year, with an increase in key stocks for Scottish fishermen.
Total catches of cod, haddock and plaice have been increased while catches of saithe, whiting and herring will be decreased in line with long-term management plans, the Scottish Government said.
It was agreed at the talks between the European Union and Norway that the total allowable catch for cod will be 29,189 tonnes, 5 per cent more than in 2014.
The increase will give UK fishermen an additional 542 tonnes and Scottish fishermen around 343 tonnes.
A 6 per cent increase in the haddock catch to 40,711 tonnes gives the UK an additional 3,468 tonnes and Scottish fishermen more than 2,500 extra tonnes.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “I am pleased there has been an increase in the quota of these key stocks for next year which is in line with the recent scientific advice that the stocks are in good shape.
“It is welcome the agreement has been reached quickly this year compared to the protracted talks last year and will provide certainty for the industry about opportunities in 2015 and avoids any delays to the commencement of fishing in the new year.
“There is much to be done to prepare for the discard ban which starts to come into force for white fish from 2016.
“This outcome will help these stocks continue to rebuild next year while also helping to minimise discards, and should provide a sound launchpad for establishing the following year’s quota under the ban.
“We now look ahead to the crucial December EU fisheries council when we will be highlighting again that our vessels need to retain the number of days they can go to sea as any cut would simply be counterproductive.”