Cod cut would cause a ‘trail of discards’

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The cod reduction proposed by the European Commission would lead to massive discarding across the North Sea and is driven by the rigid rules of the flawed Cod Recovery Plan – not fisheries conservation.

That was the warning delivered by Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead last week.

Mr Lochhead said: “Cutting the cod quota by 20 percent is a straightforward recipe for massive discards. Our fishermen won’t be able to avoid catching every more plentiful cod for which they have no quota and will be forced – against their will – to dump dead overboard.

“The Cod Recovery Plan is supposed to promote conservation, yet through inflexible year-on-year quota cuts it threatens to leave an ever widening trail of discards across the North Sea. It beggars belief that a plan to conserve cod could be the cause of the exact opposite and that’s why it is vital we maintain current catch limits in 2013.

“Scotland has put forward a sound scientific case for maintaining cod landings at this year’s level, avoiding discards while still achieving a healthy recovery of the stock by 2015. That’s why at this month’s negotiations in Brussels I will be demanding that the North Sea cod quota is rolled over next year.

“It’s vital that we find a way out of the straight jacket imposed by the cod plan so we can avoid discards, which we all agree is an obscene waste.”