Fishermen welcome EU deal to allow increased catches

Fishing quota talks have produced a 'strong result' for Scotland's fishermen, the Rural Economy secretary has said, as a new deal was struck in Brussels which will allow the fleet to catch more of several key stock, including cod and haddock.

Fresh fish are sold in the Auction Hall of Grimsby Fish Market.Pic: Getty
Fresh fish are sold in the Auction Hall of Grimsby Fish Market.Pic: Getty

Fergus Ewing said the European December Council meeting - which sets quota levels for the fishing industry across the European Union - had involved “challenging negotiations”.

But he said: “We have secured a strong result for Scotland’s fishermen, with deals worth more than £440 million to the industry and crucial increases for many of our key species.”

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UK fisheries minister George Eustice said the deal would allow for a 10 per cent increase in cod catch in the North Sea, as well as a 23 per cent increase in haddock and a 20 per cent increase in monkfish.

Meanwhile the amount of whiting fishermen are allowed to land will rise by 38 per cent and there is a 22 per cent increase in the allowance for North Sea lobster.
Mr Eustice said: “The UK has long championed sustainable fishing and that is starting to yield results in some areas with a recovery in key stocks and increased quota as a result.”

Mr Ewing said he was “frustrated” that the EU had not been able to agree Scottish proposals to allow fishermen on Scotland’s west coast to take more cod and Norway lobster but added: “Compared to 2017 this is an extra £44 
million of fishing opportunities which means our industry will go into 2018 in strong health.”

With the UK due to leave the EU in 2019, Mr Ewing added that the prospect of Brexit had “loomed large over this year’s negotiations”

He stated: “Now that these deals have been confirmed we will continue to seek real assurances from the UK Government that they will not trade access to Scottish waters away to secure other interests in the Brexit negotiations.”

Meanwhile Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) chief executive Bertie Armstrong warned there were signs that the other countries across Europe were adopting “very entrenched views” ahead of Britain’s EU departure.

He stated: “While we are broadly satisfied by the outcome of the December Fisheries Council, there are strong signs that countries both with and without fishing interests are adopting very entrenched views.”

Mr Armstrong insisted: “Looking to the future, international law is abundantly clear that upon exit, control over the UK exclusive economic zone (EEZ) will revert to the UK governments.

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“That will allow the UK to decide for our own waters who gets to catch what, where and when.

“But it doesn’t mean we won’t be willing to negotiate access. The difference is that will be on our terms.”