Fish Features

Proposed North Sea quota cut is “worst case scenario”

Fish and chip shops using fresh cod and haddock from the North Sea are being told not to panic following a recommendation yesterday for a significant cut to the quota next year.

It follows a proposal by the ICES to slash the North Sea cod quota by 47% and haddock by 14%.

But friers are being reassured that should the recommendation go ahead, it will have little impact on the availability and price of fish.

Chris Richardson, owner of Lancashire-based Richardson's Fresh Fish, comments: “The area that the ICES is referring to is between Denmark and Norway and in the English Channel and there is very little fishing goes on there that will affect us.

“None of this will have any effect on the fish landed on Peterhead market where the majority of the fish I supply comes from.”

Whether such a drastic quota cut will even come into force in the first place is being questioned, with Chris adding: “It was only January of this year that North Sea Cod was accredited with MSC certification and, as we all know, to gain this there would have to be sufficient evidence to prove that the stocks are healthy and this would not be the case if they thought there would be a need for a quota reduction of 47%!"

Skipper Jimmy Buchan, who fishes out of Peterhead, is of the same opinion and believes the recommended quota cut will not be as high. He explains: “It’s a recommendation at the moment so it’s not a given, but it needs serious consideration. It may have an impact because if there is a quota cut it means the guys that depend on that fishery will looking to access more quota from elsewhere.

“However, in my experience, the ICES always gives the worst case scenario. I’m not saying there won’t be a cut, but when it comes to negotiations both science and industry will need to work in cohesion. So, keep an eye on it, but don’t panic at this early stage.”

The news is hot on the heels of a recommendation by the ICES for a 13% drop in the total allowable catch for Barents Sea cod and a 25% cut in Barents Sea haddock.

Meanwhile,  Iceland has announced it is to raise its cod and haddock quotas later this year, with cod seeing a 3% increase and haddock a 41% hike.


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