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Marine / Relief as cod quota set to rise by 44 per cent next year

Meanwhile the fishing industry has warned that half of Scottish waters could be closed off by 2050

Cod landed at Lerwick fish market. Photo Shetland News

THE SHETLAND fishing industry has given a “qualified welcome” to proposals that could see a 44 per cent increase in next year’s cod quota.

The latest scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) also recommends increases total allowable catches for other key species such as haddock, whiting and saithe.

On the downside, ICES recommends reduced catches next year of North Sea herring, sole and lemon sole.

Chairman of Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) James Anderson said: “A 44 per cent increase in the North Sea cod quota, as recommended, would of course be good news, as would a 19 per cent increase in saithe quota.”

“But we should not forget that steep cuts in quotas for species such as cod in recent years should never have happened in the first place,” the skipper of the Alison Kay added.

“We have seen abundant cod and saithe on our grounds throughout a three-year period of sharply reduced quotas, and even with next year’s increases we will still be far from reversing that totally unnecessary damage.”

The association’s executive officer Simon Collins said the fishing industry was determined to co-operate with scientists to improve the quality of the data used in stock assessments.

“The Northern Fishing Alliance, representing fishermen from the UK, Norway and Denmark, is already working with ICES on cod science and will look to other species in the near future,” he said.

“We cannot continue to run our fisheries on the basis of patchy or non-existent data, and we intend to play a full part in remedying these deficiencies.

“Science that makes the best of fishermen’s knowledge is the only real guarantee of the sustainability of our fish stocks and the communities that depend on them.”

Meanwhile, the UK fishing industry has repeated its warning that fishermen are increasingly in danger of being ‘crowded out’ of their traditional fishing grounds by the expanding offshore energy industry as well as the designation of additional marine protected areas.

Fishing association calls for full research into impact of offshore wind

A new report for the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), published on Wednesday, predicts that by 2050 half of Scottish waters could be closed to fishing fleets due to the Scottish Government’s drive to achieve net-zero by 2045.

The SFF’s chief executive Elspeth Macdonald said: “The report shows that expansion of both offshore renewable energy generation and marine conservation are being prioritised over fishing, despite fishing’s value in producing low carbon, healthy and sustainable food, contributing to our food security and supporting thousands of jobs in our coastal communities.

“The industry’s voice and interests are being downplayed by government when it comes to overall strategy for marine planning, and in relation to individual planning decisions.

“No-one disputes the need for renewables to help in the battle against climate change, however the scale of development proposed offshore risks putting an already climate-smart industry to the sword.”