5 December, 2008
EUROPEAN fisheries commissioner Joe Borg yesterday (Thursday) reassured
fishermen they could expect a 30 per cent increase in next year’s cod quota at
this month’s crunch talks.
Northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael and fellow LibDem Borders MP Michael Moore
met Mr Borg in Brussels to tell him they did not want the larger quota to be
tied to a reduction in fishing effort.
Mr Carmichael described yesterday’s meeting as “highly productive”, boding well
for next week’s crucial EU/Norway negotiations on catches in the North Sea and
the ensuing EC fisheries council which sets quotas.
The Norwegians are pressing for an all out ban on discards, which is
pressurising the EC to allow more cod to be caught to avoid wastage at sea.
Pressure from Brussels to severely limit fishing off Scotland’s west coast was
also “not a done deal”, according to Mr Carmichael, who said the commissioner
was prepared to listen to the industry’s concerns on this issue.
Fishermen are attempting to reduce restrictions on the west coast by running sea
trials designed to limit the cod catch. These are being led by Orkney man Tam
Harcus on his 2,000 horse power Russataing,
Shetland’s fishermen are looking at carrying out their own sea trials next year
using nets more suited to their smaller white fish boats.
Speaking shortly after returning to London from Brussels yesterday afternoon, Mr
Carmichael said any fishing restrictions west of Scotland could impact the
Shetland fleet by displacing vessels working out of Orkney and mainland
He said Mr Borg was prepared to work with the west coast trials if they could be
shown to be having an effect. “If he can be persuaded the industry is taking the
problem seriously he will work them,” he said.
He added that the commissioner said a 30 per cent increase in the cod quota was
on the cards. “That’s the first time I have heard him speak of it and I find
that in itself quite encouraging. It’s a strong signal that there’s some sense
coming back into North Sea fisheries management.”
Shetland Fishermen’s Association chief executive Hansen Black was meeting with
fishing leaders in Edinburgh yesterday to discuss the way forward on minimising
quota restrictions for the Scottish fleet.
He said that an increase in the cod TAC will be welcome, but he feared there
would be “a number of strings attached to it”, which would emerge in the
fullness of time.