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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 12:29 GMT
Opinion divided over fish quotas
Cod
EU ministers have agreed a new set of fishing quotas
Fishermen and politicians have been absorbing the outcome of the latest deal on catch quotas.

Ministers meeting in Brussels agreed 15% cuts in cod and the catch levels for herring and whiting, with a 13% cut in haddock.

Calls for a ban on cod fishing in some areas were rejected. UK ministers said progress was made, but opposition parties said the industry would suffer.

There has been a mixed reaction among Scottish fishermen.

Ministers agreed a 30% increase in North Sea prawn quotas, a 5% rise in Irish Sea monkfish and a 3% increase in the catch level for hake in most fishing grounds.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices) had recommended the closure of the worst-hit fishing grounds in the North Sea.

Ross Finnie
It is always difficult trying to balance the need to preserve cod against the absolute need to ensure that our fishermen can continue to earn their living
Ross Finnie
Scottish Fisheries Minister

Following the talks, Mr Bradshaw said: "I believe this agreement will help conserve fish stocks, preserve the marine environment and help the long-term future of the fishing industry."

EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg said the deal struck the "right balance" in protecting the environment without unduly penalising fishing fleets.

Scotland's Fisheries Minister Ross Finnie said he could understand disappointment within the fishing industry, but believed the package represented a "sustainable deal".

Protect stocks

He had vowed to resist any further cut in days at sea, however, a headline figure of a five-day reduction was agreed.

Mr Finnie said he had achieved agreement on an enhanced scientific monitoring programme which meant this would be adjusted to two days, resulting in a total of 178 days at sea a year for crews.

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: "There's a headline figure of five days lost but we are able to get three days back, so it's two days in the year.

"It's a compromise package and it's one which we've been negotiating for the last three days. Before that we had managed to secure substantial increases, in North Sea and west coast prawns, and 13% in west coast herring.

"You have to look at the deal in the round. Obviously I am disappointed but I'm pleased we have been able to negotiate a mechanism, whereby rather than suffering the whole of that 3% cut, we were able to reduce it over the year to 1.1%."

Cod is only one of the stocks and every other stock in the North Sea now is on the way up
Mike Park
Scottish Fishermen's Federation

He said Scotland had a mixed fishing industry and the increase in the prawn quota was very important for the Scottish fleet.

Mr Finnie added: "I've never made any secret of the fact as long as the cod stock is in difficulty in the North Sea, it is always difficult trying to balance the need to take measures to preserve cod against the absolute need to ensure that our fishermen can continue to earn their living and support the communities that are behind them."

Mike Park, vice-president of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said in political terms the deal was as good as could have been achieved and believed the industry had turned the corner.

He added: "In reality, it does mean a reduction in the income of some sections of the fleet.

"But it's a balanced package and I think there are opportunities at the start of next year where we could maybe recover some ground.

"Cod is only one of the stocks and every other stock in the North Sea now is on the way up."

However, Arbroath skipper Raymond Hall said he was disappointed with the deal.

Fishing boats in Burghead Harbour
Scottish fishermen gave the deal a mixed response

"It's not good news for the industry," he said.

"Every year we've been getting cuts and the haddock quota is now turning into a melting pot of ice and 10 years down the line there will be nothing left.

"It's just putting increased pressure on an industry which is already finding things very difficult."

The Scottish National Party condemned the cuts and said Scottish fishermen must be asking themselves what they had to do in order to get a fair deal.

'Bleak Christmas'

SNP fisheries spokesman Richard Lochhead said: "Fishermen face a bleaker Christmas following Ross Finnie's failure to stop Brussels imposing more damaging cuts on Scotland.

"On top of all the cuts of recent years, these latest cuts will impact on fishermen who only just managed to stay afloat in 2005.

"The Scots fleet achieved everything asked of it and met all its conservation targets yet has been handed down another unjust anti-Scottish deal."

The conservation group, WWF Scotland, said it made no sense to continue to allow targeted fishing on North Sea cod when it was on the brink of collapse.

Spokeswoman Claire Pescod added: "In doing so, they are ensuring that this iconic British species has virtually no chance of survival or recovery."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See reaction to the agreement on fishing quotas



SEE ALSO:
EC tables cod quota cuts at talks
21 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Haddock catch plan sparks anger
21 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Fishing framework plan published
28 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Minister dismisses quotas scheme
17 Jan 05 |  Scotland


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