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Marine / Fishing industry celebrates big rise in cod quota

Cod. Photo: Shetland News

THE FUTURE of the local fishing industry appears to be on a more secure footing tonight after a whopping 63 per cent increase in next year’s cod quota.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said on Friday that skippers feel vindicated after arguing that catch allocations in recent years did not reflect the reality on the grounds.

For years, fishermen have said they have never seen so many cod which is now evidenced through the latest assessments which describe key commercial stocks as at their highest level for decades.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins. Photo: Shetland News

Collins said swingeing cuts to cod quotas in recent years had been excessive.

“Deficiencies in stock assessment processes are finally being addressed, and the science is now catching up with reality, proving that fishermen have had the right of it,” he said.

“Today’s announcement gives lie to the notion propagated by eNGOs that cod stocks are facing ‘extinction’, or that fish stocks in our seas are in poor shape – when in fact the opposite is true.

“The agreed quota increases also announced today for other species such as haddock, saithe and whiting mean a more viable future for Shetland’s family-owned fishing fleet, on which the well-being of our whole wider community depends.”

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Elspeth Macdonald added: “It is heartening that the fisheries managers’ decisions reflect ICES’s very positive scientific advice on shared demersal stocks and in particular, a 63 per cent increase in the TAC for North Sea cod.

“This vindicates industry’s view that the huge cuts suffered by our fleet over the last three years were not justified. We look forward to a full review of the North Sea cod assessment through the ICES benchmark process early in 2023, and to a future where fishermen’s knowledge and expertise can play a meaningful role in stock assessments and catch advice.

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The catch levels agreed with Norway and the EU for six North Sea key stocks for 2023 (compared to 2022) are:

  • Cod +63 per cent
  • Haddock +30 per cent
  • Herring -7.3 per cent
  •  Plaice +5.8 per cent
  •  Saithe +18.7 per cent
  •   Whiting +30 per cent

UK fishing minister Mark Spencer said the successful conclusion of the trilateral talks has secured fishing catch limits worth £202 million to the UK fishing industry, a £33 million increase from last year.

It comes as the UK also concluded negotiations on catch limits with coastal States in the North East Atlantic on three more key stocks to the UK fishing fleet – blue whiting, mackerel and atlanto-Scandian herring.

Spencer said: “I’m pleased we have reached agreements with the EU and Norway, and wider coastal states, to secure important fish stocks worth over £450 million for the UK fishing fleet in 2023.

“The deals will help support a sustainable, profitable fishing industry for years to come while continuing to protect our marine environment and vital fishing grounds.”

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