The British government has claimed “victory” for the UK fishing industry after the annual Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) negotiations ended last week. But the Scottish government voiced “huge frustration”.
British fishing fleets will now be able to land more fish but spend fewer days at sea, following the talks.
According to a statement from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): “The government … has secured a victory for the fishing industry by stopping a massive [25%] cut in the number of days that fishermen are allowed to spend at sea.”
The best deal
Richard Benyon, minister for the natural environment and fisheries, said: “After two days of tense and frustrating negotiations I am delighted to have secured the best deal possible for the UK fishing industry and ensured the future sustainability of our fish stocks.”
The EU also agreed to increase the total catch for a number of fish species allowing fishermen to catch more fish next year.
But the Scottish government said the talks had produced a “mixed bag of results”. While welcoming “significant gains”, Scotland’s fishing secretary Richard Lochhead highlighted “huge frustrations”.
"We are very disappointed that despite the call from many Member States for a pause in the annual cut in days at sea for vessels that fish in the Cod Recovery Zone, Europe pressed ahead,” said Lochhead. “There are other ways to protect cod stocks than keeping the fleet in port and we will work with those vessels affected to ensure they remain viable.”
Chaotic and confusing
Lochhead also described the talks as “chaotic and confusing”. He added: “The Commission itself has admitted that the CFP, including the Cod Recovery Plan, isn't working with the lawyers running the show to the detriment of conservation and the fishing industry. Next year’s reform of the Common Fisheries Policy cannot arrive soon enough.”
The Scottish government would continue its discard reduction plan, he added.
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, the minister responsible for fisheries, Michelle O’Neill, said the talks had produced “a positive outcome” for the Province. “It is absolutely crucial that our fleet has the time at sea that it needs to catch its prawn quota,” she said.
CFP key points
- Avoiding cuts of up to 25% in some fish quotas
- 200% increase in haddock caught off the West Coast of Scotland
- 15% increase in North Sea haddock quota
- Protecting the Northern Irish fishing industry by securing the same quota as last year
- South East England:15% increase in both sole and plaice quotas
- Channel: 9% rise for sole quota
- South West England: 150% increase for cod quota, 25% for haddock and 15% for whiting