Quota changes broadly good news for whitefish boats

Quota changes have been welcomed by the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, though its chairman has warned Brussels is “still living in its own land of make-believe” when it comes to a discard ban.

Leslie Tait said the quota shifts ratified by the December Fisheries Council this week were broadly good news for local whitefish boats.

Negotiations to finalise fish catching opportunities for 2017 got underway in Brussels on Monday.

“The uplifts for cod, saithe, ling and monkfish are particularly welcome, especially with cod being subject to the discard ban from 1st January 2017,” Mr Tait said.

“The major demersal stocks are in very good health – and that’s largely due to the efforts and sacrifices of fishermen stretching back a decade and more.

“The unfortunate error in the haddock science does not give fishermen any feeling of security when planning their business for the future with huge fluctuations of quota from year to year.”

Mr Tait said that even after a year of the discard ban or landings obligation for whitefish species like haddock and plaice, it was still not clear to fisherman how the rules would work in practice when it applies to a larger number of species.

Mackerel, herring and prawns are already included in the scheme, with whiting and cod being added for 2017.

Mr Tait said: “We’re staggered that the EU is still pressing on with a discard ban that it knows full well to be unworkable. Brussels is still living in its own land of make-believe.

“We look forward to a time when we can regain control of our fisheries management regime and make sure it is sensible and practical.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said more species coming under the discard ban was “a particular challenge for 2017”.

“Whilst no-one hates discarding fish more than our fishermen, this has the potential to cause real operational problems because of so-called ‘choke species’, where a mixed fishery has to close down in its entirety because the allocation of one species has been fully taken.

“This is just one of the reasons why our fishermen are so enthusiastically embracing Brexit. Regaining control of our 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone will provide the twin advantages of fairer shares of catching opportunity for our fishermen, as well as better overall management.

“It means Scotland and the UK can at long last implement fit-for-purpose fisheries management plans, including a workable discards policy, that are good for fishing communities and good for the environment.”

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said the quota increases were “good news for boats, salespeople and processors”.

It has taken some time for the science to catch up with the reality of the abundant fish that are in our local waters,” he said.

“So the government do need to work on fisheries science being as up-to-date as possible.

“The greatest challenge for 2017 is the discard ban. Increased quota may help but Shetland’s primary catches will have to be carefully monitored to avoid any possibility of our boats being forced to tie-up because a specific quota is finished through the year.

“That was the warning I gave the Fisheries Minister Fergus Ewing in the Holyrood debate last week.

“A discard ban in a mixed whitefish fishery cannot work. There will always be problems.

“I will continue to urge the Scottish government to explore the Norwegian approach which is more flexible and practical in achieving the sensible objective of stopping marketable fish being thrown over the side.”


Add Your Comment
  • John Tulloch

    • December 14th, 2016 10:42

    Here’s what Leslie Tait, Chairman of Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA), said 12 months ago:

    30th December, 2015.
    “So rather than dismiss Europe, we need to get in there and convince them that there are other ways of doing things,…”

    Since then, we’ve had the EU referendum in June and Wir Shetland argued a ‘Leave’ vote was essential to protect the fishing.

    From the article, Mr Tait now says: “We look forward to a time when we can regain control of our fisheries management regime and make sure it is sensible and practical.”

    Unfortunately, Shetlanders followed Mr Tait’s earlier advice and voted to ‘Remain’ in the EU.

    Pity, that, because if an independent Scotland goes back into the EU, they now have a mandate to take Shetland with them.

    • David Spence

      • December 14th, 2016 16:31

      John, if Shetland really wanted to stir a hornets nest, why does Shetland (if it wants greater autonomy and control of the fishing grounds as well as the economy within the islands) not take Scotland to task and ask Nicola Sturgeon to provide proof Scotland has 100% Sovereign Rights to the islands as agreed upon by Denmark and Scotland before the marriage in 1469?

      I know, I know………….why rock the boat…….its not the Shetland way to fight against those who rule over you or to have a greater say and determination to govern yourself more freely, lets say………..plus………why bother, I am happy with the way things are………excuse always being used.

      If the people of Shetland really wanted to have a greater say and control over the islands, they know fine well what they should do………………………….but usual, they cannot be bothered.

      I am pretty sure Shetland would be far better off under a Scandinavian flag than a scottish/UK one? lol

    • Steven Jarmson

      • December 14th, 2016 19:55

      Whilst I agree with much of your statements John, I disagree with your position that an independent Scotland has any mandate to take Shetland kickikicking and screaming out of the UK. Based on the higher turn out Scottish Independence referendum, Shetland voted 2 to 1 to remain within the UK. That’s a mandate by the people of Shetland to remain with the UK if Scotland chooses its own way.

    • James Watt

      • December 18th, 2016 9:35

      “Since then, we’ve had the EU referendum in June and Wir Shetland argued a ‘Leave’ vote was essential to protect the fishing.”

      Perhaps Leslie was trying to be a bit more pragmatic than Wir Shetland was about how leaving the EU could impact on fishing, and who can blame him, John and his friends at Wir Shetland would have us believe that leaving the EU would have everything coming up roses for fishing in the U.K. but when pressed you were basing this on nothing other than a belief that Westminster wouldn’t want to risk upsetting fishing communities again, well guess what John the reality is that things could end up being little better after negotiations, especially if you sell your product into Europe.


      When you consider that car manufacturing has been given “guarantees” and banking will also want unfettered access to European financial markets after Brexit, can John Tulloch and Wir Shetland now admit that Shetlands fishing could be seen as expendable for a second time with a continuation of the CFP with little of the benifits promised by both actually coming to fruition

      • John Tulloch

        • December 18th, 2016 13:39

        James Watt, does the SNP have no care for the truth when they misrepresent people in the way you just misrepresented me? I have never suggested that Wesminster could be trusted with the fishing. From my last pre-referendum letter on the fishing:

        “It’s true that, should Britain leave, Shetland’s interests would still be at risk. Neither Holyrood nor Westminster may be trusted to protect them. Only we can do that and our chances of swaying Holyrood are somewhat better than of swaying the EU.

        The game has changed in Shetland’s favour, Scottish nationalism has seen to that. Whether Shetlanders join an independent Scotland or not is their decision and why on earth would we remain loyal to a Westminster that sold us down the river, for a second time?”

        “But how can we make (all of) them listen? Certainly not by giving them a cheerful “thumbs up” as we vote blithely to remain. We must vote leave.”

        “Nothing has changed for the better since 1975,…. By (voting Leave) we shall serve notice that….. we shall protect our vital interests and will move house if necessary to do that.”

        Your apology will be appreciated.

      • Duncan Simpson

        • December 18th, 2016 14:05

        James Watt, the fishing industry being seen as expendable by Westminster (and Holyrood) has, from the outset, been one of the arguments for an autonomous Shetland!

        You say “when pressed you were basing this on nothing other than a belief that Westminster wouldn’t want to risk upsetting fishing communities again”. When did Wir Shetland say that? Do you have any evidence to back up this statement?

        The claims made by the House of Lords in the link you posted are strongly refuted by some in the industry; http://ffl.org.uk/lords-fisheries-report-is-pro-eu-rhetoric/

        We have always argued that leaving the EU would present an opportunity for the fishing industry, funnily enough exactly what industry leaders said after the vote. If politicians fail to deliver on that opportunity and betray our coastal communities a second time then that is their fault – not the fault of people who voted Leave.

        Neither Westminster nor Holyrood care about the industry (or Shetland for that matter). The only way to guarantee our interests will be protected is for Shetland to achieve self governance.

      • Ali Inkster

        • December 18th, 2016 14:32

        If we had voted to leave the EU just like every other fishing community in the UK wir industry might just be better protected in the talks to leave. But for whatever reason folks decided to vote for the status quo. In doing so they gave the snp the green light to drag us out the UK and back in to the EU should scotland vote for independence. Now more than ever Shetland needs to have an independent voice fight wir corner, instead wir cooncil is desperately sucking up to holyrood and brussels begging fir da crumbs fae wir ain table, and only expressing mild “disappointment” when they fail to even get that. or worse still crowing about their “success” when getting some stale crumbs from the EU. They may be happy to get back £1.5 million in “subsidy” for the aquaculture industry while EU boats take £hundreds of millions of fish from wir waters unhindered by marine scotland. (which they also fail to tell us that the vast majority of “EU fisheries subsidy” goes towards)
        So James to sum up Wir Shetland does not advocate leaving control of wir fisheries in the hands of westminster, indeed we advocate the very opposite we advocate that control of fisheries and everything else in wir land and seas is brought here and into the hands of the people it affects most.

      • James Watt

        • December 18th, 2016 23:20

        “James Watt, does the SNP have no care for the truth when they misrepresent people in the way you just misrepresented me? I have never suggested that Wesminster could be trusted with the fishing.”

        Really John, this looks very much to me like are suggesting Westminster wouldn’t want to risk upsetting a fishing community


        John Tulloch
        June 28th, 2016 17:34
        James, if the UK government wants Shetlanders to switch allegiance in the next independence referendum then that’s what they should do – return the fishing to the EU and the CFP.

        I don’t think they will be so daft as to do that, do you?

        I wouldn’t, if I was them.

        So now can I ask again, is it not possible that the fishing could receive little of the promised benifits after Brexit?

      • John Tulloch

        • December 19th, 2016 12:13


        Disingenuous, do you have no shame? I’ve always identified fishing-associated risk with both Westminster AND Holyrood.

        And Shetland is the only fishing community with the clout to defend itself.

        The problem with the SNP is they are fighting for the worst possible outcome, to stay in the EU and keep us under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

        Were they however to take up my recommendation (ST “Sounding Off”,17th, June) and adopt the more sensible policy for Scottish independence of joining EFTA and hence, the European Economic Area (EEA), then the EU/CFP threat would be removed.

        Scotland, in turn, would gain full access to the “Four Freedoms” AND retain sovereignty over fishing, laws, etc, while contributing only to EU programmes of our choice e.g. policing, etc – like Norway does.

        That wouldn’t mean I would suddenly start backing the SNP, far from it. Major risk would remain until the EEA became fact and given the SNP’s track record of centralisation, underfunding of education, ferry transport, etc., there remain major issues in the area of trust.

      • James Watt

        • December 19th, 2016 21:33

        John, if you can just put the faux indignation on hold for a minute and remind yourself what I was originally commenting on, my very first comment contained a quote from you which had the statement “a ‘Leave’ vote was essential to protect the fishing.”
        Anything outside the context of the ‘Leave’ vote that the EU referendum delivered is irrelevant.
        The here and now of the situation is that you got the outcome you felt was best for the UK and obviously fishing in particular, I happen to disagree,
        not because I don’t see the opportunities of leaving the EU I just don’t think that the Conservative government will implement any policies or negotiate a deal that will be able to grasp those opportunities.
        Since you were putting your faith in a leave vote being essential to protect fishing you’ve clearly also put your faith in the Tories to do what is essential to protect the fishing which brings us back to what this is all about, is it possible your faith in the Tories could be misguided and we could still be signed up to the CFP or an equivalent?

      • John Tulloch

        • December 20th, 2016 10:19

        One other point, James:

        I had expected that, with 54 SNP out of 59 Scottish MPs at Westminster, our fishing industry would now be safe? Alas, no.

        Douglas Young gleefully intimated on Facebook that there had not been a single mention of the fishing in the House of Commons in the four months since the referendum and therefore Westminster would give it away. He cited Hansard as evidence when challenged.

        I found that extraordinary – shocking, actually. Why on earth did not a single one of 54 SNP MPs speak in defence of this vital Scottish industry, especially, when the SNP – you included – is busy telling fishing communities that Westminster will give the fishing away?

        Is it, perhaps, that the SNP is hoping Westminster will give the fishing back to get their pro-EU policy off the hook when they win independence?

        Or is it that they were just too busy, waltzing around the EU, making vacuous, boke-inducing speeches in Brussels and Strasbourg, to undermine Brexit negotiations and drum up support for Indy2 ?

        However you look at it, it’s a very poor show. Shame on you.

      • John Tulloch

        • December 20th, 2016 10:32

        James, however you wish to twist it, in every letter and article I wrote, I acknowledged the risk to the fishing associated with BOTH HOLYROOD AND WESTMINSTER.

        Whatever happens, the Leave result is better than the status quo because now we, including the SNP Scottish government, have a wonderful opportunity to defend the industry and the SNP is gifted with a perfect stick with which to beat the London Tories if they give it away.

        But.. unfortunately, it’s still SNP policy to rejoin the EU 🙂

        You are going to change that policy to EFTA instead of the EU, aren’t you? I know you are, it’s only a question of timing.

  • John Tulloch

    • December 15th, 2016 10:05

    David, you ask: “..why does Shetland… not take Scotland to task and ask Nicola Sturgeon to provide proof Scotland has 100% Sovereign Rights to the islands as agreed upon by Denmark and Scotland before the marriage in 1469?”

    Gary Robinson is the one who has had “access to the highest levels of government” for the last four years, so you’d need to ask him why he hasn’t done that.

    You’d also need to ask Stuart Hill about whether transfer of sovereignty was “agreed upon by Denmark and Scotland…. in 1469” however, I think he would advise you that, like changing the laws and language, it was not part of the deal.

  • i tinkler

    • December 18th, 2016 14:07

    James Watt, what a load of poppycock. When/if Shetland gains full autonomy, Westminster and Holyrood would be out of the fishing equation. Shetland waters will belong to our fishermen for our own benefit and control… Now just look at what the SG/SNP has just landed Shetland Islands Council a funding cut of nearly £4.5 million for next year! SNP finance minister Derek Mackay is, perhaps being, just a tad, vindictive towards Shetland, due to Shetlanders routeing the SNP at the last election (largest funding cut to any Local authority). Add that cut to the £4 million shortfalls in Shetlands Health Board budget and again with the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) funding cut of £7.5 million and we get the true picture of Shetlands considered the position to Holyrood and the care the SNP/SG have for us. Just how many NHS and Council jobs will be lost, James Watt, to cover these funding cuts? Criticise “Wir Shetland” if you wish, but just look at your alternatives. Just how secure do you feel with these cuts pending, or do they not worry you?

    • i tinkler

      • December 19th, 2016 11:16

      James Watt has the cat got your tongue. Why no comment on SNP/SG cuts to Shetland, £4.5 million for next year! Health Board £4 million short, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) funding cut of £7.5 million and centralised to Holyrood! All this when Westminster increases funds to Scotland and SNP/SG given tax raising powers. “Wir Shetland”, looks like a good move, with real benefits, when the SNP/SG clearly cares!Sweet fancy Adams”, for our people. It just takes a little faith in our own people and of course courage. Unlike the SNP/SG, given powers by Westminster to raise tax revenues but too frightened to use the same. A real “paper tiger” is our Nicola Sturgeon, matches Salmond’s arrogant bluster perfectly, what an example of dynamic leadership.

      • James Watt

        • December 19th, 2016 12:43

        “James Watt has the cat got your tongue. Why no comment on SNP/SG cuts to Shetland, £4.5 million for next year!”

        Probably because I don’t have to reply to every nonsensical rant you decide to embark on, if you really feel I should reply to you perhaps you should keep your comments on topic instead of expecting a reply to a local funding question when I was asking John for clarification about Brexit and the fishing industry.

  • i tinkler

    • December 19th, 2016 16:08

    Well sorry about the “rant”, James Watt. NHS £4 million shortfall in the NHS budget, £4.5 million cut in SIC grant from the SNP/SG. No wonder you cannot answer my questions. I just wonder who is the one ranting here. Mind you it is NHS and SIC social care jobs on the line due to SG/SNP financial cuts, perhaps that is one you just have no rational answer for.
    As an SNP supporter, as you so claim to be, I was actually asking you for clarification about funding cuts alongside your observations on my comment, “When/if Shetland gains full autonomy, Westminster and Holyrood would be out of the fishing equation. Shetland waters will belong to our fishermen for our own benefit and control…”
    It should not be beyond your intellect to reply with civility. however, I perhaps, appear wrong on that point.

    • James Watt

      • December 20th, 2016 9:48

      Ian, I can assure you it’s not beyond my intellect to reply with civility, you need to ask yourself if the badgering nature of your comments towards me on this occasion merit a civil response?

  • Haydn Gear

    • December 20th, 2016 15:40

    It would be a long overdue resolution in the New Year if exchanges of ideas and views could be delivered in a manner befitting intelligent, tolerant and informed people rather than in the playground yah boo fashion which so often besmirches these columns. I’ve noticed that however hard some correspondents try to be reasonable, there are some notables who never admit they could be wrong. For the record, this trait strikes me as being weak and tetchy rather than strong and open minded and I’d like to think a sense of moderation could infuse the criticisms and arguments which all too often become debasing slanging matches. 2017 could be a turning point for the better. Happy New Year to writers and readers !!!

  • i tinkler

    • December 21st, 2016 12:10

    Haydn, Sadly, I am long past being nice and a gentleman. Shetland and her unique people, culture and landscape are threatened as never before. 2000 square miles of floating offshore wind farms, future projections of turbines up to 250 meters high. Literally, hundreds of onshore turbines being planned for, Viking Energy, Dale of Walls, Beau Windfarm, and Energy Isles. They are just the start. The utter devastation to most wildlife, land birds, seabird colonies, cetaceans and small sea mammals. Our fishing industry all but destroyed, certainly most within the 12-mile coastal limit.
    How can I be nice about the millions and millions of pounds being lost to Shetland by, what appears, a wholly vindictive SNP/SP policy to starve Shetland of funds? £8.5 million lost in funding over the past two years (Council grants), our Health board, £4 million short of funds! We have a tiny population, our rural schools, health and Social care services are heavily threatened. All this from a centralizing Scottish Government that appears to have one agenda only! That certainly is not a nurturing care for Shetland.
    I make no apology, I am long past being a nice “Gentleman”. I suffer fools not well and will speak my mind. For example, our Council Political leader can do no more than express disappointment!! We have a Nevil Chamberlin when we need a Churchill as a leader. That Haydn is just a brief summary, I could go on, but!!!

  • John Tulloch

    • December 21st, 2016 12:35

    Lest there be doubt:

    First Minister Sturgeon: ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ – yesterday!
    “One option – in my view, the best option – is to become a full member of the EU as an independent country.”

    i.e. Acceptance of the Common Fisheries Policy(CFP) will be compulsory and any Brexit gains will be, “like the snow falls in the river, one moment white – then melts forever” (Robert Burns).


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