SFF makes recommendations ahead of EU talks

Bertie Armstrong: Bertie Armstrong: "It is essential that the Scottish and UK negotiating teams fight hard to ensure...these cuts do not materialise"

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) is urging the EU Fish Council not to make further cuts in the number of days that vessel can put to sea next year, ahead of talks next week (16 and 17 December).

Additional annual reductions in days are an integral part of the widely discredited Cod Recovery Plan and were fended off last year due to ongoing stock recovery and fleet economic hardship, but the SFF says the means are still in place for the imposition of further cuts.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive, SFF, said: “Stocks are recovering in spite of the dysfunctional Cod Plan, and if there are any further cuts in days, then there quite simply won’t be a fleet left to sustainably harvest this increased abundance of fish.”

This year’s Fish Council will only be able to make firm decision on quotas for stocks belonging to the EU.

Key shared stocks with Norway in the North Sea, for example cod, haddock, whiting and mackerel, will not be decided upon until after the New Year since an agreement is yet to be reached on mackerel shares with Iceland and the Faroes.

Elsewhere, Oceana is urging Member States to implement the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) approach outlined in the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The marine conservation organisation stressed the critical need to reduce the breach between scientific advice and agreed catch limits.

“Nearly half of the stocks that Ministers will be making decisions on this week are overexploited, signaling that we are still far from being able to assert that commercially targeted European fish stocks are in a good state,” added Xavier Pastor, executive director, Oceana in Europe.

“Although the downward trend in the number of overfished stocks over the past few years is positive, greater efforts are needed to phase out overfishing. Fisheries Ministers have everything in their power to do it, all they must do, is heed the scientific advice”.

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