Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

EU cod target boosts quota hopes

It is hoped the plan will actually lead to more cod being landed to be sold

Scottish fishing industry leaders have welcomed a deal by EU fisheries ministers to protect cod stocks.

The new three-year deal envisages using better nets that allow smaller cod to escape, as well as closing certain areas to fishing when cod are spawning.

Fisheries minister Richard Lochhead said the agreement built on an approach pioneered by Scottish fishermen.

He said although the new targets would be challenging, he hoped Scotland would be given a major increase in cod quota.

The new deal agreed in Brussels is based on a reduction in cod mortality by 25% in 2009 followed by further annual reductions of 10%.

It aims to reduce the number of cod that are discarded and allow more to be actually landed and sold in shops.

Under current regulations about half of cod caught while fishing for other species is dumped because quotas have already been filled up.

'Scotland rewarded'

The agreement envisages a cut in fishing mortality by closing some fishing grounds when cod are spawning, and the use of bigger mesh nets which allow smaller cod to escape.

Mr Lochhead said the meeting was the first of three stages of the annual negotiations and attention must now turn to the EU-Norway talks next week.

"The way is now paved for a further reward for Scotland in the form of a substantial increase in cod quota to be agreed with the Norwegians," he said.

"Scotland will take further steps to reduce the amount of cod removed from the sea, but our vessels must be allowed to land more of what they do catch and that means increasing the cod quota.

"It is much better to land good marketable fish than throw it dead overboard."

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said: "The old Cod Recovery Plan was broken and we have a new plan now, which for the next three years gives us a much better prospect of success.

"Everybody saw the results of the old plan, which was fish going over the side.

"This builds on the work that we have been doing to try to avoid cod, rather than reducing quota and reducing time at sea."

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