EU deal offers fishermen lifeline

Fishermen along the region's coastline were given a last- minute lifeline yesterday after the government struck a deal to give them access to valuable new stocks.

Fishermen along the region's coastline were given a last- minute lifeline yesterday after the government struck a deal to give them access to valuable new stocks.

The future of more than 20 small fishing boats along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, from Yarmouth to Lowestoft and down to Aldeburgh, have been secured after ministers struck a deal with Germany to allow more stocks of sole to be caught.

In December, European fisheries ministers set a 25pc by-catch limit for vessels landing skates and rays from the North Sea in 2007 to protect dwindling stocks. There were also quota reduc-tions for other important commercial stocks, such as cod and sole where numbers were declining.

However, many small English fishing boats faced going out of business because they could not catch enough fish under the restrictions.

Now the UK has swapped 375 tonnes of its North Sea nephrops (prawns) quota allocation (1.5pc of the total) for 150 tonnes of North Sea sole for the under-10m fishing fleet.