A recent vote by European Union ministers has seen fishing regulations relaxed around the shoreline of the British Isles. In light of recent estimations that fish stocks in the region have replenished to a satisfactory standard, the negotiations will see less stringent quotas introduced next year.
|Cod on Sale at a Scottish fish market. source|
From 2016, fishermen will be allowed to catch twice as many plaice in the English Channel, 15% more cod and 47% more haddock in the North Sea;15% more sole in the western Channel and 20% more Celtic Sea hake, according to an article recently published by theGuardian.com.
Restrictions on plaice were relaxed after the fish showed a dramatic recovery of around 300% in a decade, attributed to the success of previous quotas. But conservationists warned that lifting limits now could impact negatively on many fragile fish populations still recovering from years of overfishing.
“Some quotas continue to allow severe overfishing, threatening the sustainability of the stock and the industry that relies on it,” said Liane Veitch, a scientist for the green legal group ClientEarth.Reaction from the thinktank the Pew Trusts was more guarded, pending disclosure of the scientific evidence on which the decisions were based.
“The good news is that ministers adopted many fishing limits in line with the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES),” said Andrew Clayton, the trust’s fisheries’ project director. “For other stocks, however, ministers exceeded the ICES advice. This makes implementing the CFP [common fisheries policy] more difficult, so it is important that ministers make public the justification for these decisions.”
However,quotas for fish species such as herring, anchovies and langoustines were tightened by ministers though, in line with the EU’s reformed CFP, which requires all species to be sustainably fished by 2020 at the latest. The news was welcomed by the fishing industry. Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “These quota rises for some of our most important stocks is good news for the industry and underlines the sustainable fishing practices of the Scottish fleet.
“Haddock is particularly important for the Scottish industry and this quota increase, along with those for North Sea cod and a number of other species, provides a welcome boost for our fishermen.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs credited the substantial quota increases to “tough UK-driven decisions” which it said would improve fish stocks and industry profitability. “By fighting for the fishing industry, and making a clear case for the need for more sustainable fishing, we have got a good deal and shown we can get what we need in Europe,” said George Eustice, the fisheries minister. “That’s just what we’re also doing in this European renegotiation [over EU membership], fighting hard for the UK.”
An EU proposal for a six-month ban on the fishing of severely depleted sea bass populations was whittled down to a two-month ban in the negotiations, with monthly limits for commercial fishing, and a one-a-day rule for recreational anglers.The phasing-in of an embargo on fish discards will also be extended to some species of haddock, whiting and sole from January.
The EU’s environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella , insisted that the new decision showed the EU was on track to meet its CFP goals. “We cannot jeopardise longer term sustainability for shorter term considerations,” he said. “I am happy to announce that we have made good progress.”
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