1. ITV Report

North Sea fishing quotas 'significantly' increased

Credit: Press Association

Significant increases in UK quotas for fish including North Sea cod have been agreed by ministers.

Fisheries minister George Eustice welcomed the deal as a "great result" for UK fishermen following European Union negotiations in Brussels.

Quotas for North Sea cod and haddock have been increased by 15% and 47% respectively on 2015 levels, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

Maximum limits on English Channel plaice have been doubled and increased by 20% for Celtic Sea hake and 15% for sole in the Western Channel.

Credit: Press Association

Defra said it had negotiated to keep the number of days fishermen could spend at sea to this year's levels, while also accepting quota cuts of 55% in sole from the Irish Sea and 9% in plaice from the Bristol Channel. The limits for 2016 were agreed at the annual EU Fisheries and Agriculture Council and Defra said decisions took account of scientific advice, sustainability goals and a drive to reduce discards.

These negotiations are the culmination of months of government-led work to secure the best possible deal for the UK fishing industry, and the tough decisions we've taken to manage fishing and recover fish stocks are paying off - this is a great December council result for UK fishermen.

I entered these discussions with the firm belief that any decisions need to support a profitable fishing industry, sustainable fish stocks and a healthy marine environment, and the significant quota increases we've achieved for iconic species like North Sea cod demonstrates the success of this approach.

We still have more to do to reach Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) for all quota species by 2020 and to deliver the full discard ban by 2019, but already fishermen are benefitting from the action we've taken in recent years to recover stocks.

By fighting for the fishing industry, and making a clear case for the need for more sustainable fishing, we have got a good deal and shown we can get what we need in Europe. That's just what we're also doing in this European renegotiation - fighting hard for the UK.

– Fisheries minister George Eustice