Early fish win in Brussels

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For the first time in five years the way has been cleared to avoid Scottish fishermen having to suffer more damaging cuts to days at sea.

Meanwhile a proposed 20 per cent cut in cod quota under the Cod Recovery Plan can be stopped.

The good news came very early in the EU Fisheries Council negotiations in Brussels, following a vote by European fishing ministers.

Scotland’s Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead, who is leading the Scottish delegation at the fish talks in Brussels, said: “It is great news for Scotland’s fishing industry that very early on we have succeeded in securing some key priorities.

“For the first time in many years our fishermen will be able to sleep a little easier this Christmas with the threat of a further cut in days at sea and also a 20 per cent cut in cod quota fading.

“This is a very significant and welcome stance by Ministers fed up with lawyers telling them why common sense can’t prevail. If the rest of the negotiations go as planned then our fishermen and our fish stocks will benefit.

“The lawyers who said there was no way round this have been rebuffed by Fishing Ministers, who have run out of patience with a plan that is so incredibly inflexible.

”It was vitally important we came away from this week’s talks with a mechanism to freeze days at sea allocations under the Cod Recovery Plan, thereby avoiding a scheduled cut that would cripple many vessels.

“With 26 of 27 member states voting for these changes and one country abstaining, the message was clear that “enough is enough” when it comes to nonsensical bureaucratic decisions being taken which destroy livelihoods.

“The deeply flawed cod plan also proposed a further cut in quota when the stock is actually recovering – and the only result would have been a trail of discards across the North Sea. So, the second win allows us the freedom to negotiate with Norway to provide for a rollover for the TAC for cod.?

“While there is still a long way to go and we are still keen to secure more flexibilities including on a number of west coast issues, it is a huge success that at last common sense has won out over legal wrangles and red tape in Brussels.”