Anger mounts over Russian threat to haddock stock Fishing Monthly Published: 05 May, 2004
A FISHERMENS leader today, May 5th, called for urgent action to curb the wanton destruction of young haddock off Rockall by Russian trawlers.
Alex Smith, the President of the Scottish Fishermens Federation, said the activities of the Russian fleet in what were once EU, but now international waters, off Rockall to the West of Scotland, called into question the effectiveness and relevance of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission who had responsibility for the international zone. The threatened elimination of the haddock stock also made a mockery of haddock recovery measures for the Rockall area.
Smith said that at a time when UK and Scottish fishermens activities were being severely curtailed, he had received reports that some Russian vessels, ostensibly fishing for blue whiting with 22mm nets, had been found to have between 50% and 60% of their catches made up of undersized haddock.
He went on:Our fleet are faced with tight restrictions in the name of conservation and yet we are seeing this immoral destruction of the haddock stock off Rockall in what are now international waters.
These reports of significant catches of undersized haddock by Russian vessels using 22mm nets are a reflection of the fact that there is virtually no control on mesh sizes in international waters.
But the way the Russians are going about this 22mm fishery means that this haddock stock is going to be wiped out unless action is taken.
Smith said that so far, unsuccessful attempts had been made to win agreement on haddock catching in international waters but the contracting parties of the fisheries commission must now take a long hard look at the situation in order to secure a proper management regime for haddock.
But it would appear that the existing commission policing and enforcement regime can do nothing to stop this, he added
It would also appear, he said, that international fishing nations like Russia were caring little for conservation but a lot more about clocking up big track records in international waters at any cost.
Ironically, policing in the area is meantime in the hands of the UK as commission contracting countries take this in turn.