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Few cuts to fish quotas in 2013

SHETLAND fishermen will see no change to their cod quota this year after negotiations between the European Union and Norway concluded at 6am on Friday morning.

All other species caught by the Scottish fleet have seen quota increases, while the two allies in the mackerel war with Iceland and Faroe took a tough stance that will see them maintain their 90 per cent share of scientifically recommended catch while accepting a 15 per cent cut.

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With the two island states maintaining their own inflated quotas in defiance of Europe and Norway, the mackerel stock will find itself under increasing pressure this year.

Scottish fishing secretary Richard Lochhead hailed this week’s deal as a success built on the back of December’s EU Fisheries Council agreement to bring an end to the automatic cut in days at sea under the cod conservation plan.

For the North Sea, Friday’s agreement means:

* the 2012 cod total allowable catch (TAC) of 10,311 tonnes is rolled over;
* the haddock TAC goes up 15 per cent to 29,194 tonnes;
* the whiting TAC goes up 11 per cent to 11,698 tonnes;
* the plaice TAC goes up 15 per cent to 25,923 tonnes:
* the saithe TAC goes up 15 per cent to 7,266 tonnes;
* the herring TAC goes up 18 per cent to 68,246 tonnes.

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The EU and Norway will continue to take their traditional 90.38 per cent share of a recommended overall TAC of 542,000 tonnes, a 15 per cent cut on last year.

Lochhead said: “This deal is good news for Scotland’s fishermen and builds on the successful outcome of December’s fish talks in Brussels, showing significant increases across a range of key stocks that are reaping the benefit of sensible management measures.

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“Importantly we have now set mackerel limits that follow the scientific recommendations, but do not in any way seek to reward the unacceptable actions of Faroe and Iceland to the detriment of the Scottish fishing industry.

“The deeply flawed cod plan proposed a further cut in quota when the stock is actually recovering, the only result would have been a trail of discards across the North Sea. This outcome will help prevent that nonsensical situation arising.

“The industry has much to look forward to in 2013 and while there will no doubt still be challenges ahead, for now at least they are able to plan ahead and be confident the future is looking brighter for them than it has for a long time.”

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