A judge has ruled that the reallocation of some fishing quotas to inshore boats should go ahead. It follows a legal challenge brought by the association which represents the industry's biggest players.
The owners of some of the west country's smaller fishing boats are celebrating tonight after a High Court victory over the size of their catch. A judge has rejected a challenge by larger operators over the way quotas are allocated.
It paves the way for Ministers to give a larger share to boats under 10 m in length - though the battle could yet go to the Court of Appeal, as Bob Constantine reports.
The UK Association of Fish Producer Organisations has lost its High Court battle with the Government over the re-allocation of fishing quotas.
The association challenged a decision by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to redistribute "fixed quota allocations" (FQAs) from its members who own vessels greater than 33ft (10m) to boats that are 33ft (10m) or under.
Tom de la Mare QC, appearing for UKAFPO at London's High Court, argued that the re-allocation decision was unlawful and discriminatory under both EU and domestic law, and amounted to an abuse of power.
Today Mr Justice Cranston rejected the challange and ruled that there was no discrimination.
This ruling is a great victory not just for small-scale fishermen, but for anyone who cares about the future of our seas and coastal communities.
The judge has demolished the arguments used by the fishing barons to justify their stranglehold on Britain's fish, giving back control of our seas to the public and our elected government.
– Ariana Densham, Greenpeace
I fear that the effects of the ruling will be the reintroduction of the race to fish that the FQA system was designed to eliminate in 1999.