A POLITICAL deal which means Scottish fishermen will not have to throw tonnes of caught fish back into the sea has been hailed a success.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead praised the successful negotiations between the EU and Norway, which averted a “nonsensical and deeply flawed” situation which would have left “a trail of discards across the North Sea”.
The deal struck at 6am means the cod quota for fishermen will remain unchanged this year.
This EU-Norway agreement has implications for the fishing industry in Scotland, both at sea and onshore, including 2013 quota decisions on North Sea cod, haddock, whiting and herring, as well as the setting of a catch limit for mackerel in the absence of agreement with Iceland and Faroes.
The talks this week, which involved senior Scottish representation, resumed after the second round ended in December without agreement.
Mr Lochhead said: “This deal is good news for Scotland’s fishermen and builds on the successful outcome of December’s fish talks in Brussels, showing significant increases across a range of key stocks that are reaping the benefit of sensible management measures.
“Importantly, we have now set mackerel limits that follow the scientific recommendations but do not in any way seek to reward the unacceptable actions of Faroe and Iceland to the detriment of the Scottish fishing industry.
“The deeply flawed cod plan proposed a further cut in quota when the stock is actually recovering. The only result would have been a trail of discards across the North Sea. This outcome will help prevent that nonsensical situation arising.
“The industry has much to look forward to in 2013 and while there will no doubt still be challenges ahead, for now at least they are able to plan ahead and be confident the future is looking brighter for them than it has for a long time.”
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “This is a good outcome based on the science, which reflects the status of our recovering stocks in the North Sea.
“The rollover of the cod quota will help bring some stability to fishermen. This stock is recovering well and a cut in quota would only have led to unavoidable discarding.
“Our fishermen have been at the forefront of spearheading a range of innovative conservation measures including technical alterations to trawls to dramatically reduce discards and adhering to real-time area closures to protect spawning and juvenile fish.
“The decision to set our overall share of the mackerel at the traditional level was also a sensible move, as it was important that nothing was done to reward the irresponsible over-fishing of the stock by Iceland and the Faroes.”