Short-term compromise may lead to commercial extinction of cod around UK – Fishupdate.com

Short-term compromise may lead to commercial extinction of cod around UK Published:  21 December, 2006

NEXT year could see the last cod caught commercially in UK waters after EU Fisheries Ministers yet again ignored the independent scientific advice, that they asked and paid for, advising zero targeted cod fisheries, according to conservationists.

Instead they say, Ministers chose to bow to the short-term demands of the fishing industry and set quotas that may see the commercial extinction of cod around the UK.

WWF say Ministers had two options to save cod; close the fisheries in which cod is caught, which Ministers ruled out, or introduce measures to greatly reduce the amount of cod that is thrown away. The latter would have minimal impacts on those vessels targeting other species.

Both were rejected and instead the Council fudged a misplaced compromise that angers all and achieves little. Ministers agreed to cut the quota for cod in the North Sea by 14%. However, such is the complex nature of mixed fisheries that this cut will tragically only increase the amount of cod that is discarded, dead or dying, and impact on fishermen’s livelihoods rather than guarantee the recovery of the species.

WWF said: “The scientists must wonder why they bother with their surveys” said Helen McLachlan, Marine Policy Officer for WWF Scotland. “It amazes me that world-class survey results are treated with such disdain, while anecdotal views from those with vested interests in raising quotas are often given credence.”

She added: “The average person on the street would be appalled to learn that, despite cod stocks being only third of minimum safe levels, the amount of cod being caught and discarded needlessly is enormous. In the North Sea an average 51% of cod caught in scampi fisheries are discarded as they are undersized.

“The bottom line for cod recovery is how many fish are being removed from the sea and without measures to reduce this, any cuts in effort and quotas will be meaningless and only result is yet higher levels of healthy cod being thrown away.”

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