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Cod/haddock quotas to rise

Shetland white fish trawler Defiant LK371. Photo SFA

THE SHETLAND and Scottish white fish industry have welcomed “a modest increase” in haddock and cod quotas for next year after initial talks in Ireland.

However they warn that progress in managing fish stocks sustainably will be wrecked if the European Commission goes ahead with its ban on discards in 2016.

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Meanwhile the pelagic industry is demanding the EC slash the amount of mackerel Faroese vessels are allowed to catch in waters around Shetland.

Talks between the European Union and Norway on next year’s white fish quota ended in Clonakilty, in County Cork, on Thursday night.

The agreement must be ratified by the EC’s fisheries council, which will also decide on days at sea allocations when it meets on 15 December.

The two sides agreed to increase the total allowable catch (TAC) for haddock by six per cent to 40,711 tonnes.

Europe’s take should amount to a 15 per cent rise thanks to Norway transferring a further 2,600 tonnes of its quota.

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North Sea cod’s quota will go up by five per cent to 29,189 tonnes, while the whiting and saithe quotas will be cut by 15 per cent.

The industry said these increases showed the EC was starting to recognise there was a substantial growth in these stocks.

However Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins once again warned the EC needed to drop its proposed discards ban.

He said it needed a more constructive approach that recognised the industry had transformed into one focused on the recovery of fish stocks.

“Nobody wants the unnecessary discarding of fish, but the Commission and the NGOs (non government organisations) are wilfully ignoring the damage their botched reforms could do to what has become a forward-looking, environmentally-conscious industry,” he said.

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Collins added a tough stance was needed on Faroese access to EU waters during next week’s bilateral talks.

In March the EU allowed Faroe to catch one third – 46,850 tonnes – of its hugely increased quota in EU waters.

Collins said: “I’ve been stopped countless times in the street by islanders outraged that the Faroese fleet has been just off our shores catching large quantities of mackerel all autumn.

“The original deal with Faroe was based on their claims – now shown to be a figment of their imagination – that their seas were awash with mackerel. Right now, the only seas awash with mackerel are around here.

“If it wants to retain any credibility as an effective body for managing fisheries, the EU must insist on a very large cut in this access quota.

“The Faroese have fisheries ministers, Europe has giveaway ministers.”

The European Association of Fish Producers (EAPO) is already urging for a reduction in access quota.

At Clonakilty the EU and Norway agreed to cut the herring quota by five per cent.

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