Defiant Fisheries minister calls for increase in cod fishing

George Eustice argues that reducing quotas will result in more fish being discarded – at least until 2016, when a discard ban begins to be applied

The Fisheries minister, George Eustice, is today preparing to defy scientists by demanding higher cod quotas – in the latest instance of the Government going against expert environmental advice.

Academics have recommended cuts of up to 33 per cent in cod catches in UK waters – in line with a recovery plan put in place in 2008 – but the reductions are contested by fishermen and ministers.

Cod numbers have been rising for several years in succession, albeit from a historically low level, and fishing communities are arguing for quotas to be increased.

But scientists from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices), which advises European governments on fish stocks, maintain that to allow quotas to rise in 2014 would damage the long-term recovery of cod.

As part of the management plan to help the fish to recover after being heavily overfished, scientists have called for an overall cut in catches around the UK of 15 per cent in 2014.

In the North Sea they want cod catches reduced by 9 per cent, while in the Celtic Sea they want them slashed by 33 per cent. In the West of Scotland and the Irish Sea, quotas have already been reduced to zero, and scientists are opposed to any increase.

Mr Eustice, however, will call for an increase in the total allowable catch (TAC) when he sits down with other European ministers at the two-day Fisheries Council meeting starting today. He is expected to have the support of other cod-fishing nations, including Norway and Ireland, which have already questioned the advice.

Ministerial opposition to the recommended cut is likely to postpone a decision until early next year, when talks can be held alongside negotiations on how to end the “mackerel war” between the EU and Iceland.

Mr Eustice argues that reducing cod quotas will result in more being discarded – at least until 2016, when a discard ban begins to be applied. The species is taken from mixed fisheries around the UK and so cannot always be caught separately to other commercial stocks, such as whiting.

Haddock and langoustine are among the other species that scientists believe should see large cuts in the catch but which Mr Eustice is likely to challenge. But he recognises that “cod is a big one, in the North Sea in particular”.

He said: “The stock is higher than the TAC has recognised. There’s no point in reducing the quota if it’s going to lead to more discards. We don’t think there should be a cut. We don’t think there should be a cut in the TAC either. There’s probably a case for a modest increase and some scientific evidence for increasing the TAC on cod.

“Ultimately, a lower TAC goes against what we are trying to achieve. I think it needs more flexibility in the system. Otherwise we are in the hopeless position of throwing dead fish back into the sea.”

Coalition ministers have previously been criticised for ignoring scientific evidence on policies, including the badger cull.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?