North Sea fishing changes

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Changes to the EU’s North Sea Cod Recovery Plan should make life simpler for local fishermen according to Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead.

Member states backed a European Commission proposal to merge the two main North Sea trawl gear categories. These control the amount of time vessels can spend at sea and this change will make it easier for vessels to fish with larger mesh and also mean that fishermen face no reduction in overall time at sea.

David Shiel of the Anglo Scottish Fishermen’s Association said: “This is a sensible way to go forward merging the days thereby allowing the vessels to work in a more viable way instead of having to target one specious all the time.”

Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead said: “This agreement is a step forward in removing an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy in fisheries management.

“It’s right that our fishermen begin to reap the rewards of many years of effort and hard change while the cod stocks in the waters around Scotland are well on the road to recovery, with the level of catches scientists advise for North Sea cod in 2016 increased by up to 15 per cent - the highest catch level recommended in 15 years.

“This change will give fishermen more choices as they prepare for the continued implementation of the EU discard ban, which applies to fish stocks like prawns.”