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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 20:17 GMT
Minister 'sorry' for cod blunder
Billy Freeman
Billy Freeman: Fears he may have to sell boat
Fisheries minister Ben Bradshaw has apologised to Cornish fishermen for a new ban that some say could devastate the industry.

The cod recovery zone imposed by the EU covers more than 6,500 sq miles between Padstow and Pembroke.

The three-month winter ban on boats under 10m was brought in to help stocks of cod recover.

But owners of boats under 10m in Padstow and other Cornwall ports say their livelihoods are under threat.

'Grotesque distortion'

The row follows an agreement by EU fisheries ministers with the European Commission last December on national fishing quotas for 2005.

Mr Bradshaw said: "You sometimes get details like this that slip through unnoticed.

"This was an industry idea which we supported and I am sorry that there has been this unforeseen consequence, but let's see if we can get it ironed out."

Paul Trebilcock, of the Cornish Fish Producers Association, said that the ban was a "grotesque distortion" of what was originally proposed.

He said: "What has come back is nothing like we originally proposed and we are certainly not happy with that."

Padstow skipper Billy Freeman said: "It's the end.

"I've seriously got to start laying off my crew and selling the boat."

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