Waters off Yorkshire coast are teeming with cod, fishermen claim

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A FISHing industry leader says cod is expanding “at a rate of knots” and far higher quotas could now be realistically set.

Arnold Locker, the owner of Lockers Trawlers in Whitby and president of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, was speaking after protracted negotiations finally set this year’s North Sea cod quota up five per cent.

Mr Locker, whose trawlers work out of Peterhead and Denmark, said they couldn’t fish the waters off the Yorkshire coast, which were “teeming with cod” because they would exhaust their quota in three weeks.

In the 1980s vessels fishing from Whitby and Scarborough would average 100 tonnes a year – but the quota now represents just 18 per cent of that amount. He said: “We need a minimum 15 per cent – and even as high as 25 per cent.”

NFFO chief executive Barrie Deas said: “After many false starts and delays, agreement has now been reached with Norway on a reciprocal deal for 2014. This means that EU vessels can now fish in the Norwegian zone of the North Sea and TACs (total allowable catches) have been settled for joint stocks. (The increase is) more than justified by scientific research on stock levels.”

Nina Schrank, from Greenpeace, said they believed small-scale fisheries, rather than industrial ones, had lost out most. Small-scale boats make up 77 per cent of the fleet but are only allowed to catch four per cent of the UK’s total fishing quota.

She said the recent reform of Europe’s fishing laws has given the Government a clear mandate to allocate quota to fishermen who fish sustainably and contribute to their local economy. She said: “This needs to happen if we are to salvage a future for our coastal communities.”