Page last updated at 11:17 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Quota cuts lower in 'hard' talks

Fishing on boat Sustain
Fishermen have been waiting to see what 2010 would hold

Scotland's fishermen have said a reduction in quotas for many key species will leave the industry facing severe challenges next year.

North Sea quotas for cod, haddock and whiting were rolled over for further talks, while the quota for west coast haddock is reduced by 25%.

There was also a deal to drive forward "catch less, land more" trials to improve conservation and cut discards.

Boats which participate will have the incentive of increased quotas.

There was an agreed rollover of quota for the £46.9m North Sea prawn (nephrops) industry, part of Scotland's most valuable fleet and a 15% cut in the west coast prawn quota.

Speaking from Brussels, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Given the challenging backdrop, these were always going to be tough talks. We have fought hard for our fishermen and the outcome will offer some degree of comfort to parts of our industry.

Michael Buchan has been skipper of the Peterhead-based Sustain for 21 years

"After long negotiations, working with the UK, we have achieved gains for some of our most valuable stocks and secured interim arrangements to ensure stocks shared with Norway can still be fished.

"We have also secured support for 'catch less, land more' trials - another example of Scotland showing international leadership on conservation."

UK Fisheries Minister Huw Irranca-Davies claimed the scientific deal was a significant agreement.

He said: "The last two days of negotiation have been as hard as ever but this win will be great news for the fishing industry.

"Sound science is essential in helping to conserve fish stocks while also allowing the industry to thrive. I know the fishing industry is fully behind these trials and I look forward to working with them as they progress."

Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: "While the final situation could have been worse, given the original proposals on the table, there is no doubt that the Scottish industry will be facing another tremendously challenging year, with there being a continuing downward trend in quota for many species and further restrictions on days-at-sea.

"Overall, the Scottish industry will be presented with some real challenges for 2010 and many sections of the fleet will struggle under the new restrictions.

"Hopefully, some of this pain will be alleviated as the recession bottoms out and recovery begins, which may lead to an improvement in prices at the market."

'Significant benefits'

Louize Hill, marine policy officer at WWF Scotland, welcomed the deal which she said would reduce discards.

She said: "This is great news and a positive step on the road to finally solving the problem of discards.

"Letting governments and industry take responsibility for the way they manage fisheries can have significant benefits, as the Conservation Credits Scheme operated in Scotland has already shown.

"As we prepare for a lengthy debate on the Common Fisheries Policy reform, this decision shows that the sea Northern countries are now ready to take steps necessary to ensure the future of our fisheries."

Final quotas for shared stocks with Norway and the Faroe Islands will not be set until negotiations in January.



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