Symposium will be major event –

Symposium will be major event Published:  07 March, 2007

Barrie Deas

THIS week’s two-day symposium on cod recovery being held near Edinburgh is being hailed as providing one of the most critical debates ever held on the future management of the cod stock.

The symposium – which has been organised by the North Western Waters and North Sea Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) and being supported by FISHupdate – will hear a number of keynote presentations from some of the world’s leading scientists and environmentalists, as well as from fishermen’s representatives and top EC officials.

By bringing all stakeholders together, the symposium is aiming to push forward new approaches to stock recovery by utilising the wide and varied range of experience available. The findings will be used by the organising RACs to provide advice and recommendations to the EC and member states as part of the mid-term review of the current Cod Recovery programme.

Special measures under this programme have been in place since 2003 but so far agreed targets have not been met and the management regime imposed has been criticised by the industry and environmentalists alike.

Dr Tom Pickerell, Fisheries Policy Officer WWF-UK and member of the North Sea RAC, said the symposium on Friday and Saturday at North Queensferry provided a unique opportunity to address why the measures taken so far had failed to restore stock levels.

“This cod symposium, the first of its type to bring together fishermen, scientists and environmentalists, is striving to put aside the culture of blame and enable us to work together to ensure that the depleted European cod fisheries are given the chance to recover,” he said.

“We will be addressing all the factors that have caused the decline and prevented recovery of stocks and aim to generate mitigating measures that balance the biological and socio-economic concerns.”

Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and member of the North Sea and North Western Waters RACs, said: “We are all committed to cod recovery but there are major questions about whether we have the right recovery programme. This symposium will help us answer these questions.

“Its purpose is to listen to world class experts on cod biology, as well as the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on fisheries affected by the cod recovery programme. By the end of the conference we hope to have a clearer idea of the way forward.”

He added: “The current recovery plan has had serious socio-economic consequences for fishermen and has delivered much less than expected. The symposium will examine the practical implications of cod recovery measures and shape our thinking on viable alternatives.”

Mike Park, Executive Chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association and Vice Chairman of the North Sea RAC, said: “The catching sector in Scotland has been very critical of the broad and blunt approach administered by the present cod recovery plan.

“We feel the time has come for a fresh approach to stock management in general and more specifically for cod recovery. This symposium is an ideal opportunity for Scotland’s fishermen to engage at the coal face of fisheries management, providing an opportunity to publicly air our future vision of the cod fishery.”