Rising quotas inspire optimism over future of North Sea fishing

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Arnold Locker writes about the recent history of our local fishing industry, highlighting the changes and the improved state of fishing today.

Whitby, like most fishing towns, has had to adapt to legislation and increasing cuts in quotas.

Back in the dark days of 2002/03 when the North Sea fishing fleet was being decommissioned, the vessels that were left to fish were put on a strict days at sea regime, and quotas were reduced across the board by 50 or 60 per cent. It was difficult to see a way forward for the North Sea fishing fleets.

Whitby and Scarborough were particularly hit hard because of their own reliance of North Sea cod, resulting over time in the complete destruction of the fishing fleet as it was.

The fishermen and scientists worked together on this huge project to restock the North Sea. Some 13 years on, after much hardship shared by all, a remarkable turnaround is being achieved.

Fisheries minister George Eustice and his team of officials, with representatives of the National Federation of Fisehmen’s Organisations have overseen an increase in major stocks which has seen North Sea cod increased by 15 per cent, and haddock by 30 per cent.

Mr Eustice also managed to negotiate a further 12 per cent increase in North Sea cod for any vessel that hsas on board cameras.

This is a fully documented fisheries programme that has been fully supported by the English fishing fleet. Therefore, some cod fishermen will have their cod quota increased by 27 per cent.

North Sea haddock becomes the first major stock to come under the new land all regulation, a top up quota of 17.6 per cent which results in most vessels’ Haddock quota rising to 47.6 per cent.

No one could have anticipated these increases even five years ago.

It gives hope and a more optimistic outlook for our industry.

This shows that when fishermen, scientists and politicians work together fantastic results can be achieved.

Lockers Fish is a family-run fresh fish processing business based in Whitby.

The company fillets, packages and delivers fresh fish to local and UK distributors, cafes, hotels and restaurants on a daily basis.