Scottish fishermen have broadly welcomed the outcome of negotiations between the EU and Norway to decide upon catching allocations for shared stocks in 2013.
The bilateral talks concluded yesterday morning, and against a background of recovering stocks and the scientific advice, quota increases were agreed for a number of key North Sea stocks including haddock (15 per cent increase), whiting (11 per cent), plaice (15 per cent), saithe (15 per cent), and herring (18 per cent).
The North Sea cod quota remains unchanged at the 2011 level, with a facility for boats to increase their cod catch further if they participate in catch quota trials. There was also a 15 per cent increase for West of Scotland saithe.
For mackerel, a catch limit was set that followed scientific advice and which will maintain the EU and Norway’s traditional share of the total allowable catch. This is an arrangement that will signal the resolve of the EU and Norway against the background of continuing failure to achieve an international management agreement for the stock with Iceland and the Faroes.
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said it was a good outcome based on the science, which reflected the status of our recovering stocks in the North Sea.
Mr Armstrong said: “The rollover of the cod quota will help bring some stability to fishermen – this stock is recovering well and a cut in quota would only have led to unavoidable discarding.
“Our fishermen have been at the forefront of spearheading a range of innovative conservation measures, including technical alterations to trawls to dramatically reduce discards, and adhering to real-time area closures to protect spawning and juvenile fish.
“The decision to set our overall share of the mackerel at the traditional level was also a sensible move, as it was important that nothing was done to reward the irresponsible over-fishing of the stock by Iceland and the Faroes.”