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Quota proposals will lead to more discards

EUROPEAN Commission proposals for 2012 quotas contain further grim news for the Scottish fleet and will lead to more discards, according to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF).

The main proposals would affect the west coast with a 25 per cut in monkfish, 15 per cent off megrim and hake down 11 per cent.

West coast haddock is touted for a 25 per cent rise, west coast prawns a very small increase but the North sea prawn fishery is in line for an 11 per cent reduction.
Quotas for North sea haddock and cod which are jointly managed with Norway will be talked about later. SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong described it as “yet another huge missed opportunity”.

He said: “We had hoped that with the Scottish fleet’s record of discard reduction and stock conservation that a more intelligent approach to fisheries management would have been adopted by the EC this year. Unfortunately, we have another dose of the same old medicine.

“Many of the cuts have been imposed as an automatic result of the failure of other EU member states to supply adequate catch data. This means that many of the cuts are not due to poor stock levels, but rather a blunt instrument by the EC to improve the flow of catch data.

“It is totally unfair that the Scottish industry, which has been at the forefront of providing such data, should be penalised for the inaction of other EU member states.

“We are particularly disappointed that the increase in West of Scotland haddock, whilst welcome as far as it goes, does not come close to recognising the robust health of this important stock and will inevitably lead to discarding, a practice the Scottish fleet finds abhorrent.

“Similarly, whilst the Scottish fleet shares the EC’s aim for the recovery of the cod stock, the zero catch proposed for West coast cod is counter-productive in terms of discards and will do more harm than good.  There are better, much more intelligent ways to meet the aims of sustainable fishing and we will be fighting to put those in place.”

Scottish fishing secretary Richard Lochhead said the proposed haddock increase was too small and would lead to more discards.

“Despite scientific advice recommending a 410 per cent increase for the West Coast haddock total allowable catch, the commission have only proposed a meagre 25 per cent increase,” he said.

“Not only does this penalise our fishermen unnecessarily it could also lead to an increase in discarded fish – something both we and the commission have been working hard to reduce.”