EU talks to finalise fish catching opportunity for 2016 concluded in Brussels early this morning (16 December) with quota increases for several key Scottish stocks.

Quota rises were agreed for haddock (+30%), North Sea cod (+15%), North Sea herring (+16%), megrim (+26%), monkfish (+20%) and West coast prawns (+16%). North Sea whiting and lemon sole quotas remain the same whilst there was a drop for North Sea prawns (- 23%).

Extra quota uplifts were also agreed for those species affected by the introduction on 1 January 2016 of the first phase of the discard ban for demersal fisheries.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “These quota rises for some of our most important stocks is good news for the industry and underlines the sustainable fishing practices of the Scottish fleet.

“Haddock is particularly important for the Scottish industry and this quota increase, along with those for North Sea cod and a number of other species, provides a welcome boost for our fishermen.

“There are, however, challenges for the year ahead, most notably the phased introduction of the discard ban. There is still great uncertainty over how this regime will work in practice and it is essential that there is a real degree of flexibility in its management, given the complex mixed fisheries that our demersal fleet operates in.”

Meanwhile, at the Brussels talks there was considerable anger from the Scottish pelagic sector at a ‘behind doors’ deal negotiated by the European Commission which resulted in Norway gaining a disproportionate share of the blue whiting quota.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “It is incredible that when the EC is supposed to be acting on behalf of EU member states and the industry they instead with this behind doors deal appear to be favouring the Norwegians.”