Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Fishing quota deal 'a mixed bag'

A Scottish fisherman in North Atlantic
Jobs in Scottish fishing communities were said to be at risk

A deal on fish quotas has been agreed in Brussels, averting the worst fears of many parts of the Scottish fleet.

West coast prawn fishermen were spared the closure of their fishing grounds.

The UK and Scottish Governments welcomed the EU deal, which included increased catch limits for stocks such as cod in 2009.

However the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) said some conservation measures would represent a massive challenge for fishermen to implement.

Fishermen can continue fishing for prawns if they use more selective nets to reduce the capture of white fish, and use a range of other conservation measures.

The challenge now is to get these measures in operation and prove that they will work
Bertie Armstrong
Scottish Fishermen's Federation

The deal also included an expected 30% rise in the quota of North Sea cod and a similar increase for mackerel.

Speaking shortly after the agreement was reached following lengthy annual talks, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "The future of the west coast fishing communities dominated this week's negotiations and there will be huge relief that proposals to close the grounds have been successfully resisted.

"The bulk of the west coast fleet will now be able to make a living in 2009 although a number of fishermen face a huge challenge in delivering the agreed conservation measures and we will work hard to help them stay viable.

"The deal draws to a close the annual fisheries negotiations that have resulted in a number of breakthroughs but also some new challenges."

'Mixed bag'

He went on: "We refused to accept the original deal on the table and, following a herculean effort and very tough negotiations, we overturned the commission's original plans.

"As always the final deal represents a mixed bag and there are still some tough times ahead as the fleet adapts to these new measures, but overall we have stood up for Scotland and our fishing communities.

Today's announcement is disastrous for the fishing industry
Willie Mackenzie

"In the current economic climate, a secure future for this vital industry has never been more important."

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said he was pleased that the EU had accepted the alternative proposals, which he said would ensure the continuation of fishing on the west coast.

He added: "The challenge now is to get these measures in operation and prove that they will work.

"It is essential that the regulations attached to this new deal are practical for fishermen to operate.

"In the North Sea, there are possible rewards in this as it gives the potential for fishermen to catch less and land more; however, the changes will present a real challenge, where additional closures and the expensive requirement to rapidly develop more selective gear will prove difficult."

About 2,000 jobs had been thought to be at risk in Scottish ports. The west coast industry is also important to the north east of Scotland fleet.

Greenpeace oceans campaigner Willie Mackenzie said: "Today's announcement is disastrous for the fishing industry. The cod quota could lead to fishermen fishing themselves out of a job, because these catch levels could see an end to North Sea cod.

"We're forced to witness the annual farce of bungling bureaucrats seriously jeopardising the future for cod and the UK fishing industry.

"Moves towards more selective nets and closing areas to reduce discards are very welcome - but that doesn't mean we should ignore the scientific advice."

Print Sponsor

Fishing for common future at sea
17 Dec 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Scots anger over discarded fish
25 Sep 08 |  Science & Environment
Fish 'worth 40m' dumped annually
25 Sep 08 |  North East/N Isles
EU to overhaul fisheries policy
17 Sep 08 |  Europe
Ownership key to saving fisheries
19 Sep 08 |  Science & Environment
Fishing funding package announced
08 Aug 08 |  North East/N Isles
Fishing quotas: The options
20 Nov 07 |  Science & Environment


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific