Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland fishing quota up by £1.2m

Image caption The deal means 480 extra tonnes of prawns, worth about £1m.

Northern Ireland's fishing fleet is to benefit from an extra £1.2m worth of fish quota after two days of talks in Brussels.

There had been fears the annual negotiation over how much fish could be caught would result in big cuts for Northern Ireland.

But the deal means 480 extra tonnes of prawns and 160 extra tonnes of haddock will be available.

The extra prawns are worth about £1m and the haddock about £170,000.

The European Commission had proposed cuts to the quotas of both species.

Fish producers described the outcome as a "dramatic and justified U-turn".

They had argued that the commission's own scientists had found haddock was abundant in the Irish Sea.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill said she was "delighted" at the outcome and it would help local fishermen develop a more balanced fishing economy.

The overall size of the quotas have been increased this year.

That is to take account of a new European regulation called the landings' obligation, that applies to both prawns and haddock.

It means fish that might have been thrown overboard in previous years now must be landed.

That rule is due to take effect from 1 January 2016.

The total value of the of the Irish Sea quotas held by the Northern Ireland fleet is now more than £15m.

An exemption to the landings' obligation has been negotiated which means that undersized prawns which can't be sold for food, can continue to be discarded.

The 7% limit is expected to cover all the undersized prawns caught by the fleet.

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