EU fishing quotas for 2008 have been settled in Brussels, with UK Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw calling the settlement ‘fair’.

The European Commission had argued for a 25 per cent cut in fishing days off the west coast of Scotland, and a 10 per cent reduction to fishing days in the North Sea. The deal has settled on cuts of 18 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

North Sea cod catch has been given an 11 per cent rise.

Fishermen will also be given days of credit in return for helping conservation measures, which is the first time such a scheme has been approved by the Commission.

2008 fishing quotas:

18 per cent decrease in fishing days off the west coast of Scotland

10 per cent decrease in fishing days in the North Sea

11 per cent increase in North Sea cod quota

50 per cent increase in Rockall haddock quota

5 per cent increase in Irish Sea haddock quota

8 per cent increase in North Sea megrim quota

Over-fishing will result in ‘real-time closures’ of those parts of the sea that are worst affected. Where fishermen report large numbers of under-size fish, they will be rewarded with extra days out at sea.

Mr Shaw said: ‘Today’s agreement acknowledges efforts by our fishermen to find new ways to safeguard stocks and to prevent large amounts of the fish they catch having to be thrown back dead into the sea.

‘The UK has shown that its fishermen are committed to finding new ways of protecting vulnerable stocks … Everyone worked together for a fair deal that has benefits for fishermen throughout the UK.’

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has not welcomed the decision, saying: ‘In enabling fishermen to claw back lost days at sea by taking steps to avoid cod, the Ministers have taken a huge gamble. The onus is now firmly on them and the industry to prove that it is not a deal too far for the fragile shoots of cod recovery.’

The EU fishing quotas for 2008 have now been settled in Brussels, with UK Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw calling the settlement ‘fair’.

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