New incentives for Scottish fishermen
Fishermen have been forced to fish in cod abundant waters closer to ports
The Scottish Government has proposed new incentives for fishermens' days at sea in a bid to increase catches of monkfish and megrim, while boosting cod conservation.
Scottish fisherman, particularly those in Shetland, have raised their concerns that restrictions on days at sea enforced under the EU’s Cod Recovery Plan (CRP), are pushing them to fish in cod abundant waters rather than taking the time to fish in deeper waters for species like monkfish.
Catches of monkfish have reduced by 27% since 2009, leaving around £2m worth of monkfish quota unlanded in 2011. As a result, Marine Scotland has suggested a transfer of unused effort from the prawn fleet to whitefish boats. A ‘50% discount’ on time at sea has also been proposed so, a four day trip only counts as two days, allowing fishermen to target monkfish and megrim, while catching considerably less cod.
A spokesperson from Marine Scotland told World Fishing & Aquaculture: “During 2012, opportunities for prawn fishing in the North Sea have been lower than normal; there has been less product availability so boats within the prawn fleet haven’t been able to use the allocation to catch prawn.
“In the case of monkfish and megrim, the reason for the decrease in catches isn’t because of lack of availability but having the time to get the deep sea grounds where fishermen can catch the monkfish. As a result, fishermen are fishing closer to ports – areas that are very cod abundant – which forces them to discard excess cod.
“The ‘50% discount’ is for the current year, just a short term measure for the 2012 quota. We’re aware that there’s quite a bit of quota available for monkfish and megrim. This change should not only stop extra cod being caught but help fishermen catch their full quotas, balancing both fishing opportunities and encouraging sustainable fishing.”
Images for this article - click to enlarge
Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright © Mercator Media 2013. This does not exclude the owner's assertion of copyright over the material.