“Bleak” future for cod catchers Published: 20 October, 2003
THE UK fisheries minister Ben Bradshaw has described the prognosis for cod catchers as “bleak” after international scientists called for a ban on cod.
Bradshaw, visiting Peterhead on Monday, 20th of October, said the verdict from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) was extremely troubling.
The scientists from ICES have recommended a complete cessation of fishing in the North Sea, off the west coast of Scotland and in the Irish Sea.
A report from ICES, published on Monday 20th October, said previous cod conservation measures had failed to turn the stock around. “Cod stocks are still at very low levels,” it stated.
It has advised EU ministers to cut quotas for cod entirely.
David Griffith, the general secretary of ICES, said: “Along with many other stocks, cod in the North Sea, Irish Sea and west of Scotland have been declining for a number of years, despite our repeated warnings. These cod stocks are at such low levels that we have had to resort to recommending zero catches as a final line in the sand, to give them some respite.”
He added: “If they are given the chance to return to their former productive states now, we hope that in the future they will be able to support valuable fisheries again.”
In response, UK fisheries minister Ben Bradshaw said:”The message is clearly bleak on some stocks of key interest to the UK; it must be taken seriously if fishing these stocks in the UK is to have a sustainable and profitable future.”
Bradshaw pointed out that hard decisions have already been made. A total of £50m has been allocated this year to decommission fishing vessels and, for the first time, the amount of time that boats can spend at sea in the North Sea has been restricted, in addition to the quota regime.
Before we can draw conclusions from what the scientists are saying we need to analyse it, and discuss it with those fishermen who will be affected.”
Bradshaw continued: “The fact that there are severe problems with some stocks is beyond doubt. However, it is not all doom and gloom. Some sectors of fishing particularly shellfish and species such as mackerel and herring are doing well.”
The EC will now consider the recommendations before making final decisions at vital talks in December.
Dr Ian Duncan, from the Scottish Fishermens’ Federation, said it was important to realise that cod was just one of many species sought by fishermen and other stocks were in good health.