Brussels criticised over “Cod is God” attitude Published: 18 December, 2006
A EURO MP has called for a radical rethink of the cod recovery plan on the eve of crucial fishing talks in Brussels.
Scottish Conservative Fisheries Spokesman, Struan Stevenson says that the current “hopeless micro-managed mishmash of TACs, quotas and effort limitation” is failing to restore cod stocks while destroying the Scottish whitefish sector.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, Mr Stevenson said:
More than 60% of Scotlands whitefish fleet has been scrapped over the past 5 years. Total allowable catches (TACs) have been slashed year after year. Quotas have been cut and the number of days our fishermen are allowed to put to sea have been reduced again and again.
“Logic would assume that against this background cod stocks would have made a remarkable recovery, but scientists who advise the European Commission claim the opposite. They admit that their previous cuts have failed, despite the deep wounds they have caused to fishing communities around Scotland. But instead of changing course, they are now demanding a further 25% reduction in the days fishermen can go to sea and a 14% cut in the North Sea cod TAC. They are even targeting our successful and abundant Nephrops (scampi) fishery for cuts because the occasional cod is caught in the same nets. The new measures will simply lead to more discards of healthy fish, thrown back into the sea dead, because fishermen would be prosecuted if they landed them. Further cuts will be disastrous for the industry.
The situation is intolerable. We know that cod stocks have moved hundreds of miles northwards because of global warming. The North Sea has warmed up by more than 1.5 degrees centigrade. As a result, big, mature cod are now to be found in great abundance in the cold waters around Norway, the Faeroes and Iceland. They will not return to the North Sea until it cools down again and no amount of new cuts and regulations from Brussels will alter that fact. We are simply wiping out Scotlands whitefish fleet in the futile pursuit of the European Commissions Cod is God philosophy.
We need a new management system which is based solely on effort control (days at sea) instead of fixed quotas. We need a total ban on the wasteful discarding of healthy fish. Everything should be landed and this would provide scientists with a clearer picture of fish stocks, while enabling immediate temporary closures of fishing grounds to be implemented where there is evidence of immature fish being caught. These measures work successfully in other countries like The Faeroes, where fishermen make a good living from the sea. Obsessive micro-management from Brussels has wrecked our Scottish industry and failed miserably to help cod stocks recover.
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