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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 16:30 GMT
UK relief at EU fishing quotas
Cod at Waveney Fish Market, Suffolk
Cod quotas for the North Sea have increased
British fishermen have overall fared better than expected in the new quotas agreed by the European Union.

Reductions in next year's catch quotas were announced on Tuesday after 26 hours of talks in Brussels.

The results were generally better than the swathing cuts predicted, especially in the North Sea, as the EU moved to revive dwindling fishing stocks.

Doug Beverage, assistant chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, told BBC News Online: "I think we've got a better balance than the commissioner proposed."

North Sea
Cod up 2%
Haddock up 50%
Saithe up 50%
Sole down 16%
There were hundreds of quotas agreed in the annual talks, covering the separate fishing waters and different breeds.

Scottish fishermen's leaders have expressed some satisfaction at the increased quota for prawns.

And North Sea fisherman will next year be able to catch slightly more cod than this year.

Stocks of cod remain close to collapse and the catch quota, which was slashed by half this year, was maintained for at least the first six months of next year in an effort to rebuild fish numbers.

Irish Sea
Herring down 30%
Haddock down 52%
Plaice up 20%
Cod up 50%
Whiting down 28%
But fisherman in the Irish Sea face big cutbacks for haddock and herring.

And plaice fisherman near the Cornwall and Devon coast were hit by a fall in quota.

Mr Beverage said the mood of fishermen, may who feared they could be put out of business, would depend on where you lived.

Disappointment

"It's a very mixed message that's come out - the Irish Sea has poor news and the North Sea has an improvement on last year.

"The commissioner took such an extreme stance. On the one hand he took the scientific advice and on the other, he didn't."

EU Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler said the move was vital in the interests of long-term conservation.

He had urged member states to take responsibility, warning that supplies of main fish species, particularly cod and hake, were close to extinction.
EU Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler
Fischler: 'Reason triumphed'

After the marathon meeting, he said: "Reason has triumphed.

"We are still of the view that it is better to go through this difficult period and see fishing stocks restored in the future rather than taking risks."

Fears

Hamish Morrison, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said he was pleased that the quota for prawns would be increased by 1,500 tonnes in the North Sea.

There had been fears that the quota would be cut because cod could be caught in the prawn nets.

But he was disappointed at the decision to cut monkfish catches by 25%.

Mr Beverage hoped that the annual quota talks would next year be replaced by regional advisory committees, made up of fishermen, scientists and working with environmental groups.

These would have their own areas to manage and monitor as an ongoing process.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Bilton in Grimsby
"Over-fishing has left serious problems"
See also:

18 Dec 01 | Europe
Europe slashes fishing quotas
18 Dec 01 | Europe
Q&A: Europe's fishing row
17 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
EU fisheries 'face collapse'
29 Oct 01 | Scotland
Cod stocks on EU agenda
23 Oct 01 | Scotland
Oceans summit tackles sea stocks
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