A Shetland fishermen’s spokesman has called a freeze in effort cuts the “absolute minimum” result that will be acceptable from next month’s fisheries council.
According to Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins the European Commission was chasing an “overly legalistic” approach to the cod recovery plan in opposition to the industry and politicians alike from EU member states.
The problem stems from the terms of the plan, which was set to run initially for three-years from 2008. It stipulates an ongoing 25 per cent, year-on-year, cut in days fishing boats are allowed at sea if there is no successor plan in place.
Mr Collins blamed the overly slow, bureaucratic and legalistic approach of the commission for failing to update the plan despite the overwhelming view that the North Sea cod stock had recovered strongly over the past few years.
Much valuable time would also be wasted at the fisheries council arguing over an effort freeze that “should not even have to be on the table.”
Mr Collins said: “There’s a cod recovery plan: there’s no cod recovered plan. A freeze is the common sense starting position and we will be looking for no worse than that.
“It is disappointing that something that is so common sense still must be argued over.”
The EU fisheries council will have to arrive on an agreed position on important shared stocks such as haddock and mackerel before entering into negotiations with coastal states like Norway and Iceland.