Processing chief hits at closed areas call Published: 09 December, 2004 A CALL for “doom and gloom“ merchants to stop interfering in the fishing industry from the sidelines came today from a fish processing chief.Robert Milne, the executive director of the Scottish Seafood Processors’ Federation said he was appalled by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s call for closure of 30% of the UK’s economic zone to commercial trawling, coupled with further fleet cuts.He added: “The ignorance of some of these people who seek to interfere in our industry beggars belief.Where is the proof that closed areas work for white fish?”“Don’t they know that more decommissioning has already taken place Have they no thought for the businesses that have been built up around the coast over many years sending on landings of fish by UK vessels“And this cannot be put at risk by proposals from people who have no experience or involvement in the industry.We must cut out these doom and gloom merchants from the sidelines. “He said the federation was also opposed to area closures under the European Commission’s proposals for next year“Opportunities to net the 1999 year class of haddock would be limited as fishermen tell us that these big haddock are in the areas which could be closed. This would be alarming for us.”But conservation group WWF said it believed the proposals from the Commission are an improvement on previous years, especially for some stocks such as cod and orange roughy.European fisheries are generally in a poor state with many fish stocks in need of radical measures to ensure their recovery, the group said. “The proposal on closed areas in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, as well as the reduction in the amount of overall fishing for deep-sea stocks, reflects a necessary and serious attempt to conserve Europe’s fisheries,” said Helen McLachlan, WWF Marine Policy Officer. “The proposals for closed areas complement the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s recommendation for 30 per cent of UK’s seas to be made into marine reserves, and need to be taken seriously by Member States.” WWF said it believes that closed areas must form part of a long term solution alongside other measures such as reduced fishing effort and the use of more selective fishing gear, aimed at reducing the amount of bycatch and discards that are such a problem in many fisheries today. To address the ICES call for zero cod quotas WWF is advocating that no targeted quotas for cod are set. Instead member states should consider the allocation of bycatch quotas for fisheries with known interaction with cod – such as haddock, whiting and nephrops. However, onboard observers must accompany such a measure so that catch levels can be monitored. By agreeing such a measure fishermen can still pursue these fisheries while maximising the chances of cod recovery. These measures must apply across all fleets involved in the fisheries.But the Scotish National Party said the Commission’s plans toClose cod grounds were nonsense.The party’s shadow Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead and SNP MEP Mr Ian Hudghton said fishing communities were fed up with this “annual torture”.Mr Lochhead said:”The size of the Scots white fish fleet has been cut in half as has the time they are allowed to spend at sea. Some white fish stocks like haddock are at record levels with rollover quotas even proposed for troubled cod stocks, yet the Brussels bureaucrats want even tougher measures than last year! Scotland’s worst enemies couldn’t make this up if they tried.”*www.fishupdate.com is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish European Fish Trader, Fishing Monthly, Fish Farming Today, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Fishermens’ Federation Diary, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.