Scots ministers hail EU fishing deal

Fishing on boat Sustain
Image caption Scots ministers say landing more and catching less helps stocks

The Scottish government has said a new EU deal struck over North Sea fishing will help safeguard the industry and stocks, despite cuts in quotas.

Scots fishermen will be able to land more cod in 2011, rather than having to discard the fish when they reach the limit, said SNP ministers.

However, cod quotas will fall 20%, while there will be a 5% reduction in the haddock total allowable catch.

Meanwhile, talks over an ongoing row over mackerel are continuing.

Scottish fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said the cod deal was reached between the EU and Norway, following talks on Saturday night.

"Under the deal, Scotland's catch quota scheme, whereby fishermen land everything they catch without the wasteful discards imposed on our fishermen by the EU's flawed Common Fisheries Policy, will be extended," he said.

"Scottish fishermen will be able to land, rather than having to discard, an extra amount equal to 12% of the total allowable catch cod.

"This will enable us to more than double the number of boats participating in the scheme, to around 40, therefore, landing more, yet catching less, will help the stock."

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong described the deal as "a mixed bag".

"The catch quota system has, without doubt, potential for the future," he said.

"However, it has been spun as an instant answer to discards. At this point it is not.

"It is absolutely clear from those who participated in the trials to date that unless there are changes to the present TAC and quota rules, then it will simply not work overall, in either reducing discards, or in improving the commercial position of the whitefish fleet."

Elsewhere, the North Sea fishing quotas for whiting will increase 15%, while herring will also rise, by 21%.

There will be a 13% reduction in Saithe.

The UK government takes the lead in European fisheries talks, with input from Scottish ministers.

The mackerel quota row has been ongoing since Iceland and the Faroes earlier sparked outrage by unilaterally setting mackerel quotas in their own waters.

Despite Iceland walking away from talks, Mr Lochhead said he was hopeful a three-way deal between the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands could be put in place next week.

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