Cod TAC and days at sea are priorities
Increased cod TAC would help prevent discards, while days at sea reduction would cripple fishing industry.
A further reduction in the number of days fishermen can go to sea would be devastating for Scotland’s already fragile fishing industry.
In the run-up to the crunch Fisheries Council in Brussels in December, Scotland’s Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead will seek to prevent a cut in the number of days at sea by arguing hard for an effort freeze as well as arguing for, if the science due out soon supports it, a moderate increase in cod Total Allowable Catch (TAC).
Speaking ahead of the EU Fisheries Council in Luxembourg, Mr Lochhead also said that following the recent change in UK Government Fisheries Minister he has written to DEFRA to highlight that the key issues for discussion – negotiations between EU and Norway on jointly managed stocks and the on-going mackerel allocation dispute between Coastal States – are very complex and of prime importance to Scotland.
Mr Lochhead said:
“Preventing a cut to days at sea allowance and, if the science supports it, securing an increase in cod TAC, are two of our key negotiating priorities as we enter this important phase leading up to the crunch Fisheries Council in December and I will be doing everything I can to secure a favourable outcome for Scotland’s fishermen.
“One of the most simple and indisputable issues in fishing is that fishermen need to be able to go to sea to catch the quota that has been allocated to them. By cutting the days they are able to go to sea we risk them not being able to do that – and at a most basic level that is a ridiculous situation to get ourselves into. A reduction to days at sea allocation also has a significant economic impact on fishermen and prevents them from fishing selectively due to the reduced time at sea available, which is therefore detrimental to fish stocks - clearly not what EU Ministers want to achieve. So I will be arguing hard for an effort freeze.
“The proposed cut in North Sea cod TAC is also deeply concerning and underlines why the Cod Recovery Plan is now widely discredited. We hope and anticipate the next round of scientific advice due out shortly will continue to show significant recovery in cod stocks, and if that is the case, all a cut in TAC will achieve is an increase in discards – which is the very thing we are aiming to eradicate through recent Common Fisheries Policy (CRP) reforms. It is vital to our success in reducing discards that we take a sensible approach, in line with the science, to managing fish stocks. And again, it is important we don’t end up getting the opposite result from what Council wants to achieve.
“Both of these issues I have outlined and the on-going mackerel dispute are of critical importance to the future viability of Scotland’s Fishing industry – Scottish fishermen catch 75 per cent of the UK mackerel quota - and I have written to DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson to try and ensure our priorities are understood and well-conveyed to Council Members given the recent change in UK Fisheries Minister.”