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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK
Scientists urge North Sea cod ban
The 2007 North Sea cod quota was 20,000 tonnes
A total ban on North Sea cod fishing has been called for by a group of marine scientists, ahead of EU talks.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) also recommends major cuts in the catches of fish including haddock and plaice.

A spokesman said stocks were "suffering from reduced reproduction".

Scotland's Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead said he would "pursue energetically" Scottish interests in EU talks on the issue.

Complete moratorium

The ICES report comes before annual fisheries talks between European ministers in Brussels.

As well as recommending a complete moratorium on cod, ICES is calling for cuts in North Sea catches of herring, haddock, whiting, plaice and sole.

The cod quota for 2007 was set at 20,000 tonnes.

The group wants the plaice quota to be 26,000 tonnes for 2008, compared with 50,261 tonnes in 2007.

It recommends a reduction in the level for whiting from 23,800 tonnes down to just 5,000 tonnes.

The report concludes that stocks of some fish, including haddock, are healthy.

But ICES chairman Martin Pastoors said other catches were reporting lower levels of reproduction.

He added: "This is seen in several areas and will have to be reflected in the fisheries management."

Mr Lochhead said his SNP party would seek "radical changes" to the common fisheries policy, which he said was "failing to deliver either prosperity for our communities or the sustainable stocks on which those communities depend".

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