Scotland’s Fisheries Secretary has expressed concern over new fishing quotas for the North Sea, which have just been agreed by the EU and Norway.
Fishing negotiations concluded in Brussels last week, with Norwegian and EU representatives agreeing to cut quotas for North Sea cod fishing by 50%. Quotas for saithe and whiting have also been reduced by 15% and 13% respectively, while herring quotas remain unaltered. The negotiators agreed to increase quotas for haddock fishing by 23% and plaice by 17%. A new working group will be established, to be jointly operated by Norway and the EU from early 2020, in order to develop management solutions to promote stock recovery within cod populations; and Scotland has announced its intention to take the lead on development of policy measures aimed at addressing the impact of drastic reductions in quotas on the fishing industry.
Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This year’s talks have taken place against some difficult scientific advice – particularly for North Sea cod. While I welcome an agreement, the outcome is disappointing. A cut of this size will be very challenging for Scottish fishing businesses. We recognise the need to manage fish stocks sustainably, necessitating a substantial reduction, but it is regrettable that once again the main burden has fallen on Scotland. We have significant concerns about a methodology that recognises poor cod stocks in the Southern North Sea, but seems to disregard much healthier numbers in Northern waters. We will press for action to address this.
“The Scottish Government will do everything we can to support the industry. Our attention now turns to next week’s December council negotiations in Brussels – potentially our last as a member of the EU. It is clear that Brexit considerations are playing a role in this year’s negotiations, with Scotland’s interests being compromised by being part of the member state which is choosing to walk away, but I will continue to do all I can to champion the interests of our fishing industry.”