Bradshaw warned skippers will be forced to dump good fish –

Bradshaw warned skippers will be forced to dump good fish Published:  16 March, 2004

A FISHERMEN’S spokesman has warned UK fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw that large-scale haddock and cod dumping is now a real prospect in the North Sea.

And the only way it can be avoided is if the UK Government goes ahead with its own measures to head off damage to stocks.

Hamish Morrison, the chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’ Federation told Mr Bradshaw in a letter that judging by the performance of MPs at a recent debate on the TAC and Quota Regulation held by the European Standing Committee, MPs are less than fully aware and, therefore, unconcerned at the serious long-term damage being done to both fish stocks and industry viability in the name of cod conservation.

Mr Morrison said two Scottish producer organisations have already been obliged to close their “non-permit” haddock fisheries and a third much larger PO is due to follow.

He added:“Indeed all POs are likely to find themselves in this invidious position in the near future. That state of affairs can only result in massive and widespread dumping of haddock, and indeed cod. This cannot have been the intention of the regulation.”

As Mr Bradshaw had confirmed, wide-ranging amendment of these provisions is under consideration but no actual details have been forthcoming. Indeed it is understood that the matter has been withdrawn from the agenda of the March Fisheries Council,

Mr Morrison continued.

“Since I am sure you appreciate that fishermen cannot sustain their businesses on reassuring words alone, it is now essential that you and your ministerial colleagues across the UK take unilateral action to implement your own new management regulations as soon as possible. This is now the only action that can moderate the rate of discards and reduce damage to fleet viability. The management arrangements causing these problems apply only to United Kingdom vessels and the Commission has already accepted that the offending measures should be amended. Against this background there can be no reasonable objection to the kind of pre-emptive action proposed. Indeed few would now dissent from the view that these arrangements should have been left to national administrations in the first place rather than indulge the Commission’s obsession for micromanagement by regulation.”

Mr Morrison stressed the new management arrangements must be implemented quickly and must not be overcomplicated.

“From what is already known of the Commission’s thoughts on the matter it would seem reasonable to remove the ten Fladen rectangles from the cod protection area. Catches of haddock already taken from these grounds should be re-allocated to the permit component of the quota. Similarly haddock by-catches in nephrops fisheries should be accounted in the area where they were taken rather than misattributed to the cod protection area. To facilitate these adjustments the permit component of the quota should be set at no more than 27,500 tonnes.”