Britain in talks to limit fish quota cuts

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The Independent Online
British fishermen were facing steep cuts in their quotas last night as European Union ministers edged towards a deal drastically reducing 1996 catches. As negotiations got under way, only the exact scale of the cuts remained to be decided.

The new quota reductions ordered by Brussels to protect dwindling stocks, will coincide with the entry on 1 January of the Spanish fleet into most of Britain's fishing grounds and will further antagonise Euro-sceptics who inflicted an embarrassing defeat on the Government by rejecting EU fishing policy in a Commons vote on Tuesday.

Tony Baldry, the fisheries minister, was last night battling to water down the worst of the cuts and extract concessions for the British fleet despite repeated warnings that stocks for some species are close to exhaustion.

During one-to-one talks with the Spanish EU president and the European Commission he put the case for concessions on North Sea plaice, herring off the west coast of Scotland and plaice and sole in western waters. Mr Baldry said afterwards that talks had been constructive.