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Fisheries: Quotas

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 10 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will carry out a mid-year review of the reduction in quota levels for 7e sole in the light of new scientific advice; and what recent assessment he has made of the effect of quota levels on the livelihoods of fishermen in the south-west. (254978)

The International Council for the Exploration for the Sea (ICES) provides scientific advice to the European Commission and member states for the management of EU fish stocks. Since agreement was reached on total allowable catches and quotas for 2009 there has been no new advice concerning 7e sole. Once new information becomes available I will give it my full consideration.

I fully recognise that the loss of sole quota impacts on fishers’ in the south-west. Based on average 2008 prices, this year’s cut in the UK quota of 68t, is valued at approximately £500,000. However, this does not take account of fluctuations in price and catches of other species.

I am keen for my officials to continue to work with representatives of the south-west fishing industry. They have, therefore, agreed to meet throughout the year to explore the scope for developing a strategy for 7e sole based on the latest evidence.