Fishing deal ‘positive’ for NI

The EU agreed to increase the sustainable fishing quotas for a variety of valuable fish in British waters for 2017.
The EU agreed to increase the sustainable fishing quotas for a variety of valuable fish in British waters for 2017.

Chip shop favourites such as cod, haddock and sole can be caught in greater numbers in UK waters after ministers secured a new deal.

The EU agreed to increase the sustainable fishing quotas for a variety of valuable fish in British waters for 2017.

And the deal has been described as “positive overall” for fishing communities in Northern Ireland.

A 25% increase in haddock that can be caught in the Irish Sea was agreed, as well as an 8.6% boost for the Norway Lobster, commonly used in scampi.

Cod, whiting and plaice quotas are to remain the same as last year.

However, herring suffered a drop of 10%.

Dick James, chief executive of the NI Fish Producers Organisation, told the News Letter: “These were the first negotiations over fishing quotas since the UK voted to exit the EU, and so there was some trepidation about how our ministers would be treated.

“But overall I would say this is a positive deal for the industry in Northern Ireland.

“There were some disappointments, particularly that herring is down 10% in the Irish Sea.

“However, the 8.6% rise in nephrops (Norway lobster) is particularly welcome, as that is by far the most important one to our fleet. The boost for haddock is also very welcome.

“With Brexit now looming, fishermen can look to the future with real optimism.”

Elsewhere, a 16.5% increase in cod that can be caught in the North Sea was agreed.

In the Western Channel, there was 20% boost to sole and a 7% rise in haddock.

But a hefty blow was dealt to net fishermen catching sea bass, who will see their hauls reduced by around 80%, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

And a 38% reduction of cod caught in the Celtic Sea was deemed necessary for sustainability.

GB fisheries minister George Eustice celebrated the negotiations with the fisheries council in Brussels and vowed that the Government would continue to enforce sustainable fishing after exiting the EU.

He added: “As we prepare to leave the European Union we have an opportunity to build on progress made and improve the management of fish stocks in our waters, but we will continue to follow the principles of fishing sustainably and ending the wasteful practice of discarding fish.”