Fishing leaders have welcomed “modest” increases in white fish quotas for next year.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association and the Scottish White Fish Producer’s Assocation gave their response after quota talks ended in County Cork this week.
But they warn huge effort will be needed to prevent the discard ban ruining efforts already made to ensure fish stocks are sustainably managed.
For North Sea haddock, the total allowable catch (TAC) has been set at 40,711 tonnes – a six per cent increase on 2014. A transfer from Norway to the EU of a further 2,600 tonnes takes the increase to 15 per cent.
For North Sea cod, the TAC has been set at 29,189 tonnes – a five per cent increase on 2014.
Speaking on discards, SFA executive officer Simon Collins said: “Nobody wants the unnecessary discarding of fish, but the Commission and the NGOs are wilfully ignoring the damage their botched reforms could do to what has become a forward-looking, environmentally-conscious industry.”
Chief executive of SWFPA Mike Park said: “While the quota increases in key stocks are a positive signal, the Commission and NGOs who have pursued reforms to eliminate discards need to start acknowledging the commitment of Scotland’s fishermen in delivering the recovery of fish stocks.
“It is now essential that they begin to look forward to a positive future rather than continuing to revisit the mistakes of the past.
“The fishing industry has changed out of all recognition and we are demanding innovative fisheries management to complement the innovation currently going on within the fishing sector. Delivering and maintaining sustainable fisheries and stable stocks is now uppermost in the minds of all fishermen.”
The EU-Norway deal is the precursor to the December Fisheries Council which, among other important issues, including discussions on the number of days vessels can fish, will ratify positions reached with Norway.
Conservative MEP Ian Duncan said existing legislation needed to be “tailored” to accommodate the needs of fishing fleets.
“Fisheries is the single most regulated industry in the EU, so it should come as no surprise that to enact a discard ban, a plethora of earlier regulations must be amended or repealed.”