North Sea fishermen welcome higher quota

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EU negotiations over North Sea fishing reached a conclusion this week, with catch allocations for many North Sea species increasing for 2013.

Against a background of recovering stocks and scientific advice, quota increases were agreed for haddock (a 15% increase), whiting (11%), plaice (15%), saithe (15%), and herring (18%).

The North Sea cod quota remains unchanged, at the 2011 level, with the opportunity for boats to increase their cod catch further if they take part in catch quota trials.

For mackerel, a catch limit was set that followed scientific advice and which will maintain the traditional allowable catch.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “This is a good outcome, which reflects the status of our recovering stocks in the North Sea.

“The rollover of the cod quota will help bring stability to fishermen - this stock is recovering well and a cut in quota would only have led to unavoidable discarding.

“Our fishermen have been at the forefront of spearheading a range of innovative conservation measures, including technical alterations to trawls to dramatically reduce discards, and adhering to area closures to protect spawning and juvenile fish.”

He went on: “The decision to set our overall share of the mackerel at the traditional level was also sensible.

“It was important nothing was done to reward the irresponsible over-fishing of the stock by Iceland and the Faroes.”