Minsters Welcome EU Delay Over British Fishing Time Restrictions

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Fisheries ministers have welcomed news that any decision on reductions in fishing time for British vessels will be delayed.

Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead and UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon said they held productive discussions with EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki today.

Last week the Scottish and UK Governments said they did not understand the conclusion of a regulation which demands a reduction to compensate for "overfishing".

Through a tele-conference this afternoon, the ministers raised their joint concerns over figures from the European Commission which indicate additional reductions in fishing time next year for Scottish, English and Northern Irish vessels.

Mr Lochhead said: "We held positive discussions today with the commissioner, where we agreed to work collaboratively to find a resolution.

"I welcome that the commissioner has agreed to repeal the new regulation, given the confusion over the figures, while we will continue dialogue in Brussels on December 5.

"We are now working flat out to avoid any ill-thought and rushed decisions being taken."

The regulation, signed on Wednesday November 23, states: "Certain member states have exceeded their fishing effort allocation for the year 2010. It is therefore appropriate to operate deductions from the fishing effort allocated to them in the year 2011."

The rules apply to any boat which catches cod. However, because people fishing for other species also tend to net a certain amount of cod in their catch, it is feared the regulations will have a knock-on effect on the wider industry.