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I agree that it is important for the entire west coast fishing fleet that the cut in TAC does not go ahead. We must remember that the proposed 15% cut would follow several cuts that have been made in recent years-a 15% cut was proposed last year and went through-so it is a reduction of more than 15% on the catch of a few years ago.
To add to the problems of the Clyde fishermen, the proposed cut in the Irish sea quota is even higher. The Clyde fishermen are concerned that sea vessels that normally fish in the Irish sea will come to the Clyde instead to fish for prawns, as has already been witnessed. The Clyde Fishermen's Association is concerned about that and estimates that those additional vessels will increase the fishing effort in the Clyde by about 30%. That additional effort will come out of a TAC that could well be cut by 15%, so it does not take much arithmetic to work out that there will not be much quota left for Clyde-based fishermen in their home waters.
What makes those cuts even more frustrating is that nephrop stocks off the west coast are healthy. That is recognised by all. The problem that the Commission envisages is cod by-catch, but it does not appear to take into account the fact that cod by-catch resulting from fishing for nephrops is tiny. It also does not appear to take into account the other measures that have been taken to reduce by-catch. The weekend fishing ban on the Clyde, for example, further limits the days at sea, and there have recently been increases in mesh size and the introduction of the new OMEGA measuring gauge. A TAC cut of 15%, combined with the effects of stocks being taken by visiting vessels, will result in a severe blow for the Clyde fishing industry. I urge the Minister to make it his prime objective when he goes to Brussels to get that cut reversed. The TAC must remain where it is if fishing in the Clyde is to survive.