Britain wins fish stocks quota battle

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The European Commission has dropped proposals that would have seen an automatic cut in fish quotas where there is not enough information about stock levels.

Britain had opposed the plans for a 25 per cent reduction in quotas for stocks which were lacking in data, as part of efforts to make the EU’s fisheries more sustainable, because officials said they were not based on science.

The proposals could have hit important UK fisheries including Rockall cod, Irish Sea herring, haddock and plaice and West of Scotland whiting and pollock.

The Commission also said quotas would not automatically revert to the same level as the previous year for stocks without sufficient data, but each would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon said he was glad to see some “realism” in the decisions being made at yesterday’s EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg.

Britain also won backing from Ireland yesterday in its call for Iceland and the Faroe Islands to reduce the quotas they unilaterally awarded themselves for mackerel in the North Sea, or face sanctions, to ensure the stocks are fished fairly.

Speaking on the ditching of proposals for an automatic cut to stocks without sufficient data, Mr Benyon said: “Just because the data on a stock doesn’t give the full picture, that doesn’t mean slashing the amount which you’re allowed to catch by a quarter is the right response.”