The heavy reductions made to next year’s permitted cod catches from waters in and around the United Kingdom were difficult, but necessary decisions, with concerns mounting about the state of stocks, according to U.K. Fisheries Minister George Eustice.
At this week’s annual December Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) meeting, the last one attended by the United Kingdom before it becomes an independent coastal state, significant cuts in cod quotas were agreed to for the Irish Sea west of Scotland, and the Celtic Sea – essentially providing just enough quota to allow for the landing of accidental catches.
This meeting was preceded by the annual E.U.-Norway negotiations, where it was agreed to cut cod quotas by 50 percent in the North Sea to 17,679 metric tons (MT).
The North Sea cod stock lost its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation in October.
“This year there has been some very challenging science for cod stocks in many parts of the Northeast Atlantic and we have responded to conserve stocks,” Eustice said after the AGRIFISH meeting. “I know that some of the quota reductions will be very difficult for some sectors of the industry and there has been considerable debate this year about the importance of bycatch allowances to support the delivery of the discard ban. However, we also know that to protect the profitability of fisheries in the future, we must fish sustainably today.”
The minister also claimed that some of problems have been exacerbated by “the E.U.’s outdated method” for sharing quota between member states, which leave the United Kingdom with a “very small share” of the cod in its own waters.
“As we leave the E.U. and become an independent coastal state, we will be in a position to address the unfairness that is inherent in the Common Fisheries Policy,” he said.
The United Kingdom will become an independent coastal state once it has left the E.U. As such, it will negotiate on fisheries as a third-country with the E.U. and other coastal states such as Norway and the Faroe Islands.