The Fisheries Council is over. The delegates have left Brussels for another year and the results are a mixed bag, much if which is surprisingly encouraging – not least with the spectre of the landing obligation about to be applied to demersal fisheries across Europe.
The angling lobby is already spitting fury over the decision not to rein in the UK gillnet fishery for bass too harshly, claiming that powerful commercial fishing lobbies have been at work. This may go some way to lessening the pain of the Eastern Channel 14% cut in sole quota, which could have been much worse at the proposed 32%.
The pleasant surprise is how many quotas have risen. Plaice is up throughout the Channel, a measure that Jim Portus, chief executive of the SWFPO, welcomed as a measure that should give fishermen the flexibility to ensure discarding plaice becomes a thing of the past.
North Sea haddock and cod are up by 19% and 15% respectively, while North Sea herring jumps 16% and megrim a respectable 26%. There has even been a small but significant increase in the North Sea sole quota. In the Kattegat sole has been increased by 85% and cod by a massive 270%.
The Celtic Sea looks less promising with hefty cuts in both haddock and cod.
Spain’s Grand Sol fishery has increases in hake of 19% and megrim of 5%, plus a rollover on monkfish and nephrops up 26% along with increases for mackerel and anchovy – but the 14% cut in the Grand Sol monkfish quota is going to sting.
According to Europêche president Javier Garat, the result achieved are the best that could have been obtained for many stocks.
‘All our fishermen want to meet the objectives of the CFP and ensure the sustainability of fisheries but we must have the flexibility to meet those targets.’ he said, adding that the EU Commission’s behaviour on favouring Norway on blue whiting has been a huge disappointment as this is contrary to the interests of European fleets.
There is considerable anger from the Scottish pelagic sector at what is seen as a deal negotiated behind closed doors to give Norway a disproportionate share of the blue whiting quota.
‘It is incredible that when the EC is supposed to be acting on behalf of EU member states and the industry they instead with this behind doors deal appear to be favouring the Norwegians,’ said Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association.