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Europe must deliver for Scottish fishing

Published: 13 Dec 2015 10:03

Fisheries Secretary calls for extra fish quotas to implement discard ban.

Scottish fishermen need the European Commission to deliver increased fish quotas and quota uplifts to help them implement the discard ban.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead will join his counterparts from around Europe at the annual negotiations in Brussels this week. This comes ahead of the discard ban – which prevents dead fish from being thrown back into the sea and will help conserve stocks – being phased in for a number of species for 2016.

Mr Lochhead highlighted the range of work the government has undertaken to help fishermen understand the ban, including holding information events, distributing guidance and fact-sheets, and working with industry to understand the challenges presented by the discard ban and identifying solutions. He added that the Commission need to ensure the fleet has the additional fish quota and quota uplifts to implement the measures.

Mr Lochhead will also be seeking immediate action and commitments from the Commission to begin the repeal of the flawed Cod Recovery Plan and all its dysfunctional elements, given the current positive health of the North Sea cod stock, which is now over three times the size it was in 2006 and this year received the highest advised catch tonnage in 15 years.

He said:

"No-one, least of all our fishermen, want to see perfectly edible fish thrown back into the sea dead. The successful implementation of the discard ban can end this practice and it is crucial that the European Commission delivers the extra fish quotas and quota uplifts that our fishermen need.

"We've already seen positive signs with the agreed increases in quota for haddock and cod, in a package that will be worth around £15 million for Scottish fishermen, but we need that matched with increases in the total allowable catch and quota uplifts for the other species being negotiated in Brussels.

"The Scottish Government has been working hard with the industry to help them understand and prepare for the discard ban and I will be in Brussels to fight for the best possible deal for our fleet.

"The deeply flawed Cod Recovery Plan has been a millstone around our fishermen's necks for far too long and their efforts which have borne fruit in the recovery of the North Sea Cod stock now need to be recognised. The cod stock is now over three times the size it was in 2006 and this year it is enjoying the highest advised catch tonnage in 15 years.

"Now is the time to demand that the Commission initiate immediate steps for the full repeal of the Cod Recovery Plan and all its dysfunctional elements."