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UK Secures Balanced Fisheries Deal

UK - UK Fisheries Minister Huw Irranca-Davies has welcomed a European Union agreement that will see British fishermen gain vital quota increases while taking action to protect stocks and cut waste.

Fishermen secured bigger hauls of some types of fish and suffered a smaller than feared cut in prawn quotas, while in the important West of Scotland fishing grounds the UK successfully resisted cuts to the livelihoods of fishing communities while fishermen there will face challenging new conservation measures.

Increased catch limits for British fishermen in 2009 include:

  • 30 per cent more North Sea cod;
  • 32 per cent more mackerel;
  • 13 per cent more North Sea plaice; and
  • 8 per cent more monkfish for West of Scotland.

Mr Irranca-Davies said: “This is a fair deal overall for the UK, balancing the needs of our fishermen to make a living with the need to protect fish stocks for the future and prevent huge amounts of what they catch having to be thrown back dead into the sea.

“Ports all over Britain will benefit, including Northern Ireland where vital prawn stocks will be safeguarded and we exercised our right to secure extra haddock and whiting for North Sea fishermen.

“I believe the measures agreed today are a significant step towards a more effective Common Fisheries Policy in future, one in which the industry and consumers can have greater confidence.

“I want to thank my fellow Ministers from the devolved administrations and their officials, as well as Defra officials. Everyone worked together for a fair deal that safeguards fish stocks, maintains a sustainable fishing industry and protects the marine environment.”

Scottish National Party Westminster Fisheries spokesperson and MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Angus MacNeil, also welcomed the deal which he said was a breakthrough by the Scottish Government to head off proposals by the European Commission which would have been "catastrophic" for west coast fisheries communities.

The plan, intended to preserve whitefish stocks, would have effectively closed down west coast fisheries, including the prawn sector Scotland's biggest and most valuable stock worth 45m to west coast fishing communities and 100m across Scotland as a whole.

Emerging from lengthy negotiations, Fisheries Minister, Richard Lochhead, revealed that the Scottish Government had successfully argued for more sophisticated measures which will protect fragile whitefish stocks while permitting prawn fishing in Scotland.

Mr MacNeil said: "Closure of the west coast for fisheries would have been catastrophic for the communities it supports and a body blow to the broader economy at an already fragile time. A blanket ban was never the answer, and I am relieved that Richard Lochhead and his team of Scottish Government officials managed to pull this back from the brink.

"The Scottish Government recognised the impact a blanket ban would have and led the way on sensible and reasonable measures to actively support Scotland's vital fishing industry. In recent weeks, we have seen major mackerel and cod quota increases as well as an end to the disgraceful practice of discards.

"The entire industry has been holding is breath, and I am just relieved that the Scottish Government stood their ground and refused to accept potentially catastrophic proposals from Brussels."

the Fish Site Editor

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