Whilst the UK Fisheries Minister has, as ever, done the best he could at the Fisheries Council quota negotiations, and suggests that he was delighted to secure the best possible deal for the UK fishing industry, the swingeing cuts to many species are an unmitigated disaster for the UK’s small scale fleet and will do no more than put yet more of this sector, those vessels of less than ten metres in length, out of business, says the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA)

“Year on year, the results of overfishing have resulted in cut after cut in the quota available to the fleet. The small scale fleet have not been directly responsible for the causes of the cuts but with access to an average of only 4% of the overall UK quota, they suffer disproportionately from reduced access to fishing opportunities,” said Jerry Percy, ceo NUTFA.

“These vessels, that make up 77% of the active fleet in the UK are already struggling to survive and with many of the key species being subject to reductions yet again, this will be the final straw for some of the most sustainable and socio economically important vessels around our coast.

“At the same time, as the majority of discards from much of the under ten fleet are due to lack of quota rather than from fishing gear or method, cuts in quota simply result in small scale fishers discarding more fish.

“It is now time that the Minister considers a new and differentiated approach to access to quota for this sector. If Ministers around the table in Europe can be imaginative in circumventing the Cod Recovery Plan then Mr Benyon should certainly be able to deliver a system of allocation in the UK that more adequately reflects the urgent needs of the under ten metre sector.

“Whilst of course welcoming the more positive elements resulting from the Minister’s efforts in Brussels, The New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA) will be pressing him to address their concerns at a meeting in early January,” he added.

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