Government claims victory with 'realistic' fishing agreements

The government has claimed victory for the British fishing industry following the conclusion of the EU Fisheries Ministers' Council in Brussels today.

Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw said that the negotiating team had achieved a "realistic" balance between the conservation needs and the demands of the industry's "economic interests".

Speaking after talks which began on Wednesday and lasted through the night of Thursday December 18, Mr Bradshaw said: "We have defended the number of days our fishing vessels are allowed to take catches under the cod recovery plan. We have agreed with the Commission a long term recovery plan to restore the traditional cod fishing grounds crucial to the economic survival of many fishing communities.

"At the same time, we have secured increases in a number of quotas, particularly haddock and nephrops, and also others around the coast of importance to UK fishermen. Flexibility has been key to these negotiations".

Restrictions have been placed in some fishing grounds, including the Irish Sea. Spatial management, an idea from the fishing industry for "closed" or "semi-closed" areas to protect cod stocks in the North Sea, is being adopted. This will enable the fishing fleet to place greater effort on catches of other stocks forms part of the 2004 Fisheries Council agreement.

The Council also successfully reached agreement for 2004 effort rules. These include: maintaining the 15 days for cod boats; giving UK beam trawlers 16 days per month, including two decommissioning days; extra days for boats in the Irish Sea (when fishing activity kept to 50% in the Irish Sea); and agreement reached that non-fishing voyages through the controlled zone do not count towards totals of days.


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