Aldeburgh: Fishermen dismiss EU’s freeze on cod restrictions

Aldeburgh fisherman Dean Fryer.

Aldeburgh fisherman Dean Fryer. - Credit: Archant

The decision to retain European cod restrictions has been dismissed as needless bureaucracy by Suffolk fishermen who say stocks are at their highest levels in 30 years.

Aldeburgh Fishermen’s Association has reported “plentiful” supplies of cod and called for an end to the restrictions, which were frozen last week at the latest round of EU quota negotiations.

“The numbers of cod are as good as they’ve ever been over the past 30 years –there’s no shortage,” said the association’s Dean Fryer.

Although Mr Fryer said this year’s cod quota had not hindered fishermen because the weather had been too poor to take any large catches, he feared that a better season in 2014 would be difficult to capitalise upon with the restrictions still in place.

“We need a larger quota than we’re usually given, but this year, with the weather the way it was, the quotas have held up,” he said. “Next year might be different if the weather’s any better.”

The decision to freeze the number of days fisherman can go to sea under the cod recovery plan was welcomed by the UK Government as being “good for sustainability and the nation’s fishing industry”.

With many fishermen fearing that tighter restrictions were likely to be set prior to the talks being held, fisheries minister George Eustice said he was pleased to have secured the “best possible deal”.

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“It was my top priority to ensure that days at sea for fishermen would remain the same next year and that is exactly what has been achieved,” he said.

“I entered these discussion with the firm believe that any decision on quotas or days spent at sea need to be based on three clear principles; following scientific advice, fishing sustainably and the need for continued reduction in discarding. We stuck to these principles throughout.”

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs also welcomed a number of concessions to reduce the extent by which several fishing quotas were to be slashed.

The agency said the UK had successfully negotiated the concessions by providing “sound scientific evidence” to the EU.

Mr Fryer, however, has criticised the EU’s involvement in his industry. “Over the years it has messed us around a lot,” he said.

East of England MEP Geoffery Van Orden is also critical of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

“I have always been of the view that the Common Fisheries Policy was bad for the fish and bad for our fishermen – it is one of those areas that I hope we can bring back under national and local control when the Prime Minister strikes a new deal with the EU,” he said.