No cuts in days at sea for Scottish fishermen

18 Dec 2013 11:32 AM

Success at fisheries negotiations.

Scottish fishermen have retained their current days at sea allocation for 2014 for all sea areas following the crucial end of year fisheries negotiations in Brussels.

Earlier this week the Scottish Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead outlined this issue as his main priority before he left for the talks.

On the west coast of Scotland there was a clear commitment from the Commission to support us running very important trials preparing for the landing obligation for some of our key west coast stocks, including cod.

Quotas for our most valuable north sea stocks including cod, haddock, herring and whiting won't be confirmed until EU Norway talks conclude at the end of January. In preparation for these talks it was explained to the Commission why Scotland will be seeking an increase in north sea cod quota and the Commission introduced a statement acknowledging that objective.

The talks also secured some important flexibilities between the North Sea and the West of Scotland for monkfish allowing vessels to catch 10 per cent of their North Sea quota in the West of Scotland where the stocks are healthier. This is a doubling of the current arrangements. There was also success in reducing the proposed 20 per cent cut in Total Allowable Catch (TAC) to 10 per cent.

Commenting immediately after the talks concluded on Tuesday, Mr Lochhead said:

“Securing current level of days at sea is a relief for Scotland's fishing industry and will offer stability in 2014. This means our fishing fleet can achieve a better balance between having quota to catch and enough days at sea to catch it. This is the second year in a row without days at sea cuts but it is a great pity that that we arrived at these talks with this cloud of uncertainty still hanging over the fleet.

“As for the 2014 quotas, there was the usual mixed bag with some quotas increased and others reduced in line with long term management plans and scientific advice.

“We can now start to look ahead to 2014 to the implementation of the long overdue reformed of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which has done so much damage to the Scottish fishing industry and we can hopefully look forward to decisions affecting our industry will be brought closer to home.

“It was important to ensure the Commission were clear on our rational on seeking an increase in quota for North Sea cod in the forthcoming important EU/Norway talks.

“We also needed the monkfish flexibility to increase our catch in the West of Scotland and to protect the stock in the North Sea. We negotiated hard on this issue with a strong scientific case which will enable the Scottish fleet to be able to fish the stock in a more dynamic way. This is just the beginning of the process and we will continue to pursue the flexibility issue further in the years to come. This will be an important feature in allowing our fishing businesses to operate with less restriction as they begin the transition towards a discard ban.”