Stevenson welcomes a better balance on cod stocks

Conservative Fisheries spokesman Struan Stevenson today welcomed a new package of measures designed to address the delicate balance between the recovery of cod stocks and the livelihoods of fishing communities.

As the European Parliament approved two reports aimed at getting the EU’s cod programme back on track, Mr Stevenson said:

“The old plan was delivering the worst of both worlds - no good for cod stocks and no good for fishermen. This readjustment should help to inject some common sense into the management of cod stocks which have begun to make a strong recovery.”

Mr Stevenson, Conservative MEP for Scotland, supports the findings of the EU’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for fisheries, which reported last year that the Commission’s Cod Recovery Plan was not meeting its main objectives.

The plan sets how much cod boats can land, as well as how long they can spend at sea. Mr Stevenson and Conservative MEPs backed a rebalancing of the plan so that it can continue to rebuild cod stocks around the United Kingdom and Ireland, while also restoring the confidence of the industry.

Affected countries such as Britain, France, Denmark and Germany, have argued for an end to year-on-year decreases in so-called “fishing effort” (the number of days a vessel may legally fish) which are considered ineffective and unjustified. Conservatives backed a successful move to keep days at sea at 2012 levels.

Mr Stevenson said:

“This is all about getting the right balance. Saying you will continue reducing time at sea relentlessly is an ineffective and burdensome control.

“It just was not working, so something had to be done. I’m glad MEPs have listened to fishing communities. It’s now up to the Council of Ministers to approve this multi-annual plan.”