FISHERMEN leaders have broadly welcomed next year’s fish quota deal, which brings substantial increases for key stocks in Scotland.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association’s executive officer Simon Collins even went as far as saying that increases for whitefish were for once bringing “some good cheer to fishermen this Christmas”.
But there was anger from the pelagic sector after it emerged that Norway gained a “disproportionate” share of the blue whiting quota following a deal behind closed doors.
The December fisheries council agreed an increase in the haddock quota of 30 per cent, while North Sea cod is going up by 15 per cent, monkfish by 20 per cent and megrim by 26 per cent.
Extra quota uplifts were also agreed for haddock and plaice as they are affected by the introduction of the first phase of the discard ban for whitefish, starting on 1 January.
Scottish fishing minister Richard Lochhead said the deal was worth an extra £25 million to the industry, and would help fishing boats to manage the incoming discard ban.
Collins said the quota increases reflected the robust nature of most of the key demersal stocks.
Referring to the discard ban, he added: “Nobody wants to dump fish at sea, but the vast majority of our fishermen are sceptical that this ban is going to work in practice.
“Fish stocks are in good shape because of the efforts and sacrifices of fishermen over many years, so it is vital for the future of this industry on which Shetland depends that the EU, national governments and fisheries regulators get it right.
“The phased extension of the discard ban in future years will require flexibility and common sense, and we will continue to press for both.”
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong ndescribed the white fish deal as a welcome boost.
“There are, however, challenges for the year ahead, most notably the phased introduction of the discard ban.
“There is still great uncertainty over how this regime will work in practice and it is essential that there is a real degree of flexibility in its management, given the complex mixed fisheries that our demersal fleet operates in,” he said.
However, a behind closed doors deal allocating a substantial share of blue whiting to the Norwegians has further aggrieved pelagic fishermen, who are already deeply frustrated by stalled negotiations with the Faroese over mackerel quotas.
Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association chief executive Ian Gatt said: “It is incredible that when the EC is supposed to be acting on behalf of EU member states and the industry they instead with this behind doors deal appear to be favouring the Norwegians.”
Collins added: “Next year also needs to be the year that access arrangements between the EU and Faroe in the mackerel fishery are renegotiated to ensure a much fairer distribution of the catch of this high-value species.”
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 440 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News