Extra fishing days ‘will sustain fleet this year’

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MARINE Scotland has announced new days at sea allocations for fishermen on the west coast which it is claimed will help sustain the fleet this year.

Fishermen’s leaders had expressed concerns that west coast prawn fishermen could be forced to tie up their boats as early as August because of European restrictions imposed under the controversial cod recovery plan.

Marine Scotland has now revealed that days at sea allocations for west coast prawn vessels this year will be equivalent to 95 per cent or more of the hours spent at sea on the west coast in 2009-11.

Prawn fishermen will be at sea for a minimum of 110 days. The Scottish Government hopes to be able to return allocations to 100 per cent next year.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “These allocations mean that nearly 70 per cent of the west coast prawn fleet will either continue to be exempt from days at sea altogether or will face no reduction. The remainder will face a reduction of no more than 5 per cent in their normal time.”

He added: “The government will also help skippers affected this year by reductions in time at sea. Skippers will be offered a new opportunity to become involved in paid science work connected to inshore fisheries and the marine environment on the west coast.

“The government hopes that the initiative will be of particular interest to skippers operating ­locally on the west coast.”