THE Government claims it has come up with a deal that helps protect fish stocks while safeguarding the fishing industry.
A number of concessions have been negotiated, including a freeze on the number of days fishermen are allowed to go to sea, which will remain at the 2013 number.
These were the first EU quota negotiations since agreeing the historic reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
A DEFRA spokesman said: “We have achieved this by securing for another year a vital freeze in the number of days fishermen can go to sea under the cod recovery plan.
This gives fishermen the time they need to fish more selectively and avoid discarding perfectly good fish.
“North Sea cod quotas won’t be agreed until some time this month; however we will be pushing for a quota for cod which is consistent with achieving Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015.
“There has also been broad recognition at this year’s negotiations that when dealing with mixed fisheries discards can be difficult to manage.
“That is why we have followed scientific advice by agreeing quotas that will reduce discards and help achieve sustainable stocks.
“Many fish stocks are becoming healthier but some have a longer way to go and we have accepted quota cuts where these are necessary.
“We are also fishing more sustainably but further work can be done to make fishing methods even more sustainable.
“The UK has been praised for steps we are already taking to do this – including making strong progress on the selectivity of fishing gear and implementing our catch quota schemes which eliminate discards.”
Speaking from Brussels, Fisheries Minister George Eustice said
“Although these were difficult negotiations, I am pleased that we were able to secure the best possible deal for ensuring sustainable fisheries and a strong UK fishing industry.
“It was my top priority to ensure that days at sea for fishermen would remain the same next year and that is exactly what has been achieved.
“I entered these discussions with the firm belief that any decisions on quotas or days spent at sea need to be based on three clear principles; following scientific advice, fishing sustainably and the need for continued reduction in discarding. We stuck to these principles throughout.”
Rye fishermen claim that under ten metre boats, which make up most of the Rye fleet, have been disadvantaged in the past with the lion’s share of fishing quotas being handed out to bigger operators.
Jerry Percy, Chief Executive to the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association said: “The recent landmark vote by the European Parliament that for the first time requires Member States to include social, environmental and economic criteria when allocating quota to fishermen rather than on questionable historic rights as in the past.”