EU fisheries chief wants cod quota cuts

15 Nov 2010

Europe’s fisheries chief has dealt a body blow to Scotland’s trawler fleet by calling for a cut of up to 50% in next year’s haul of cod in some key areas.

Maria Damanaki, European commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, made the call after reviewing evidence that the species is not recovering from over-fishing. She is also looking for a reduction in the number of cod caught in the North Sea, but such a cut will be subject to negotiations with Norway that start this week.

Damanaki said the European Commission’s sustainable fishing proposals for 2011 were designed to rectify years of mismanagement of stocks. However, they will hit Scotland’s £445 million (€524.5 million/$715.6 million)-a-year industry the hardest.

She said: “We must not lose sight of the basic facts. The amount of fish in the sea is limited and the amount of fish that can be caught each year without putting the future of the stocks at risk is limited too.

“Each year we ask scientists to tell us what those limits are. The Commission is basing its proposal on that advice.”

The Commission said it was still very concerned about the conservation of cod, for which a management plan has been in force since 2004.

“Cod stocks in the Kattegat [near Denmark], the Irish Sea and the west of Scotland are showing no signs of recovery. The Commission is therefore proposing 50% reductions in these total allowable catches (TACs) and has asked member states to collaborate in an in-depth review of cod management.”

Damanaki said just 120 tonnes should be caught from around Scotland, but is proposing to allow 3,420 tonnes from the Bay of Biscay, 337 tonnes from the Irish Sea and 190 tonnes from the Sweden-Denmark straits.

She said: “The situation for North Sea cod took a turn for the worse in 2008, when a greater proportion of the stock was caught than in any year since 1999.

“Real-time closures and cod-avoidance schemes have not been enough to protect the stock and have had little effect on fishing patterns.

Management of North Sea cod is shared with Norway, and discussions will have to be held on redressing this situation.”

However, Damanaki’s demand is likely to be modified by EU fisheries ministers.

[Source: Herald Scotland]

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