NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Warning on North Sea fish quotas suggestion

Fishing on boat Sustain

Scottish fishing industry leaders have called for calm heads in the wake of scientific advice recommending a 20% cut to North Sea cod quotas.

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation said the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas suggestion would "kill off businesses".

The science behind the figures was said to be uncertain because a number of countries did not submit data.

A decision on next year's quota levels will be taken in December.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong told BBC Scotland: "Right now we are absolutely at the bone.

"We cannot tolerate any further downturn in days at sea. We must address this now.

"A further 20% is good night Vienna."

European demands

A Scottish government spokesman said: "The information released from ICES, which is only advice at this stage, clearly points to potentially another tough year for many sectors, particularly whitefish, to meet the EU's stated conservation targets.

"This advice suggests that the North Sea cod stock, while increasing in size, has not yet reached a sustainable level, and that the removal rate of cod has increased.

"There is concern among the some of the scientists involved over the basis of this final assessment, which has a significant degree of uncertainty, and this must be investigated."

He added: "In the meantime, we will continue to demand that Europe recognises the innovation and sacrifice shown by the Scottish industry in tackling discards and reducing mortality."

Environmental group the WWF said the figures indicated that the current management system for North Sea cod had not been effective in controlling catches.

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