Fishermen avoid more European quota cuts

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BERWICKSHIRE fishermen will not be facing any further cuts to the days they spend at sea or the quota of fish they can catch as they head into a new year.

The European Union fishing talks concluded with ministers accepting that there is no justification for further restrictions as part of the cod recovery plan.

Borders MP Michael Moore and local MSP John Lamont welcomed the halting of cuts in cod quota and the number of days at sea as good news for Berwickshire fishermen.

Berwickshire fishermen have long been challenging EU conservation measures, telling politicians the North Sea is full of fish.

In October they met senior representatives of Marine Scotland in Eyemouth in the first of a series of quayside conversations where the views and concerns of Scottish fishermen could be heard directly. The problems created by EU regulations were well aired.

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive, Bertie Armstrong, said: “Fishing effort in Scotland has been slashed by almost 70 per cent over the last 10 years and we were simply at a stage where the fleet could not sustain any more cuts.”

Michael Moore said: “I welcome this outcome, which has averted a reduction in cod quota and days at sea.

“This had the potential to damage our local industry here in the Berwickshire and make it even more difficult for fishermen to get out to sea and catch fish in a sustainable and economical manner.

“This change is based on solid scientific evidence rather than an out-of-date plan and is good news for an industry which is already facing enormous challenges.

“In these negotiations, the Borders and Scotland have benefited from the strength of the UK negotiating position which has secured a good deal for our local fishermen on this issue.

“The UK Government is committed to continuing to work with the EU Parliament to reform the broken Common Fisheries Policy which has had a damaging affect on so many fishing businesses here in Berwickshire.”

MSP John Lamont agreed, adding: “The cod recovery plan flew in the face of science and would have seen a massive 20 per cent cut.

“It was clear that these plans could not be allowed to go ahead. Cod catches are vital to our fishing fleets in Eyemouth and along the east coast if they are to remain profitable and in business.

“To ask them to not only get by on a smaller catch, but also giving them fewer days in which to catch it was simply unrealistic.”