EU - Following discussions at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, EU ministers have now reached an agreement on fishing opportunities for 2016 in the Atlantic, North Sea and Black Sea.
Overall, the UK's negotiating team was pleased to achieve quota increases for its fishermen, including cod and plaice stocks.
UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice commented: "I entered these discussions with the firm belief that any decisions need to support a profitable fishing industry, sustainable fish stocks and a healthy marine environment, and the significant quota increases we’ve achieved for iconic species like North Sea Cod demonstrate the success of this approach."
The quota's were welcomed by the Scottish fishing industry as many of its key stocks saw a quota increase.
Quota rises were agreed for haddock (+30 per cent), North Sea cod (+15 per cent), North Sea herring (+16 per cent), megrim (+26 per cent), monkfish (+20 per cent) and West coast prawns (+16 per cent).
North Sea whiting and lemon sole quotas remain the same whilst there was a drop for North Sea prawns (- 23 per cent).
Extra quota uplifts were also agreed for those species affected by the introduction on 1 January 2016 of the first phase of the discard ban for demersal fisheries.
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.
“There are, however, challenges for the year ahead, most notably the phased introduction of the discard ban. There is still great uncertainty over how this regime will work in practice and it is essential that there is a real degree of flexibility in its management, given the complex mixed fisheries that our demersal fleet operates in.”
Northern Ireland secured an additional £1.2 million of fishing opportunities for 2016. The fishing fleet will have access to around 160 tonnes of extra Irish Sea haddock and 480 tonnes of additional prawn quota.
Ireland also saw a whitefish quota increase of 10 per cent and eight per cent for prawns.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, said: “We are currently rolling out the most radical reform ever agreed under the Common Fisheries Policy. The phasing out of discards is a challenging policy for the fishing community to implement and is being supported by the introduction of quota uplift for fisheries affected. A discards ban will apply to prawn, whiting, haddock and hake fisheries in 2016. Fishermen are being given additional quota to cover the increased landings with an 18 per cent overall increase for these stocks with an additional value of €9m, if more selective fishing methods are used to avoid juvenile catches.”
The EU's Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, also commented on the outcome of the dicussions, saying: "Our responsibility to our citizens and to the sector is to deliver on the objectives and ambitions of the Common Fisheries Policy. One of the fundamental objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy is that stocks are fished at a level that can keep them at maximum sustainable yield (MSY). We cannot jeopardise the longer term sustainability for the shorter term considerations. With this said, I am happy to announce that we have made good progress together with the Member States."