Northern Ireland

New European fishing quotas 'horrendous' say fishermen

Fish graphic
Image caption The biggest worry for fishermen is next year's zero cod catch

The European Commission has announced further reductions in Irish sea fishing quotas.

The proposals for 2012 include zero catches of cod and a 17% reduction in prawn landings.

Local fishermen have described the proposals as "horrendous" and have claimed they represent the end of the line for white fish boats in the Irish sea.

The biggest issue for the white fish fleet is the zero cod catch next year.

Haddock quotas are also to be cut by 25%.

Dick James of the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation said the quota plan will leave white fish boats unviable.

There is also anger over a 25% reduction in the herring catch at a time when fishermen have said there is evidence stocks are in a healthy state.

The biggest financial blow comes from the plan to reduce the prawn catch by 17%.

Fishermen said the proposal is at odds with science, which points to a stable prawn stock.

Fisheries Minister Michelle O'Neill expressed her disappointment.

"In the coming months I and my officials will work with the local fishing industry, to develop the arguments we will put to the commission to ensure a more reasonable outcome that will accommodate the environmental, social and economic objectives that we have for fisheries.

"I will also be working closely with other fisheries ministers in Britain and the south to agree our negotiating priorities at the Fisheries Councils in the autumn," she said.

DUP MEP Diane Dodds said the new quotas "could spell the end for some of Northern Ireland's fishing fleet".

"I will be lobbying the Commission to adopt a more common sense approach," she added.

"It must take into account the fact that stocks are healthy and that our fishing fleet are responsible in their duties to sustainable fishing practices."

The proposal to reduce prawn landings is closely connected with the by-catch of cod.

The proposals will form the basis for the annual quota negotiation at the November meeting of fisheries ministers in Brussels.

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