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Cod quota warning

The biomass of cod in the North Sea is now three times larger than in 2006.

A SCOTTISH fishermen’s leader has warned that new cuts in the cod and haddock quotas for next year would further undermine the viability of the whitefish industry.

The recommendations from the International Council of the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) come against a background of growing stocks of North Sea cod.

Fishermen were told during a briefing by Marine Scotland on Tuesday that the biomass of cod was now three times larger than in 2006, and were growing at a good rate annually.

ICES are recommending a nine per cent cut in the cod quota for 2014, and a 15 per cent reduction for haddock.

Chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Bertie Armstrong said: “This increase in the North Sea cod stock is down in large part to the massive efforts and sacrifices made by our fishermen over the last decade who have adopted a wide range of measures to conserve stocks.

“Any further cuts in the cod quota will only lead to increased discarding, given the abundance of adult fish, and jeopardise the future viability of the fishing fleet at the very time when stocks are increasing.

“It is imperative that the Scottish and UK governments work with us closely to press for management decisions that ensure the continuing sustainable catching of our stocks whilst at the same time providing a viable future for our hard working fishermen.”

The final total allowable catches (TACs) for the North Sea will be negotiated between Norway and the EU in September.

Armstrong added: “A key focus of these discussions will be the need for the pragmatic long term management of cod that recognises that the biomass is increasing, fishing pressure is falling and that the stock is being harvested sustainably.”