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Published - 18/12/2013

Old school negotiations see fishing quotas set behind closed-doors for the last time


Fishing quotas for 2014 have been set at a meeting in Brussels of European Union fisheries ministers (17th December 2013).

Some good progress was made this year, bringing more fisheries in to line with scientific advice than ever before, but this doesn’t hold true for all stocks.  

MCS says ministers appear to have put off some tough decisions and cuts that would end overfishing and achieve maximum sustainable yield until 2015 and beyond. Over fishing will be illegal under the new Common Fisheries Policy, which comes in to force in January – just too late to legally influence this round of negotiations.

The UK Fisheries Minister, George Eustice MP, has boldly claimed these latest negotiations to be a success for both fish stocks and the fishing fleet.  

For some stocks we would agree with him, but certainly not all. The principle of adhering to scientific advice needs to be applied to all fisheries. 

Celtic Sea haddock, West of Scotland monkfish, Irish Sea prawns and Eastern sole all had their proposed quota reductions slashed by half, meaning that the recovery of these stocks is being further slowed.  North Sea herring is also going to be subjected to the same levels of fishing as 2013, where the science suggested a reduction in fishing of two thirds in some places.

Sustainable fish stocks deliver incredible value to society. 

Not only do fish stocks provide us with some much-needed food security, they are more profitable in the long-term and demonstrate how humans can live in better balance with nature – and still reap the rewards.  MCS will be watching the remaining negotiations over quota allocations with interest as all decisions on North Sea cod are now linked to resolving the current ‘mackerel-wars’ where fisheries are shared with non-EU fleets.

Next year, the doors will be opened on these clandestine negotiations.  

The public will know for the first time how those elected to represent our best interests – and remember these are our fish – are negotiating on our behalf.  Much has been achieved, some excellent progress is being made, but more remains to be done.  

Sustainable fishing is for life, not just for Christmas – and for all fish stocks, not just for some.

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