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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Cautious welcome to fisheries deal
North Sea cod
Some cod species face commercial extinction
The World Development Summit agreement to protect the world's fishing stocks has been given cautious backing by environmental groups.

In some regions, over fishing threatens some species of fish with extinction. The deal aims to restore most of the world's major fisheries to commercial health by 2015.


It does recognise the need for enforcement, but doesn't recognise how its going to be done

Sian Pullen, WWF

Fish stocks should be allowed to return to "levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, with the aim of achieving these goals for depleted stocks by 2015", the agreement states.

It is the first substantial deal to be reached at the Johannesburg summit, and contains recommendations and a timetable for action.

Key points include:

  • Permanent non-fishing zones to protect breeding areas by 2012

  • Temporary fishing bans in areas experiencing serious depletion

  • Action against illegal fishing

However, some environmentalists are concerned that the deal does not set out how its terms might be enforced, especially regarding so-called 'pirate trawlers'.

Illegal fishing has been identified as one of the main threats to the world's fisheries.

Worldwide Fund for Nature spokeswoman Sian Pullen welcomed the deal, but added that there was room for improvement.

"We would have liked it to be more progressive, but it's good compared to some of the other issues which may be going backwards," she told the Reuters News Agency.

"It does recognise the need for enforcement, but doesn't recognise how it's going to be done. It's a major issue and not one that's been adequately addressed."

Statement of intent

The agreement is not legally binding, but environmental groups hope the deal will become a strong statement of intent and keep the issue of ocean depletion in the public eye.


'm not sure if such a plan is possible in the time they are talking about. Biologically it might be possible, but politically I'm not sure

Henrik Sparholt, Ices

Henrik Sparholt from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices) told BBC News Online:

"We are not sure to what extent it will have an impact. It's more important to have good fisheries management in place.

"Our organisation covers the north Atlantic and the North Sea, where there are very pressing problems.

"Cod stocks there are at a very low level, and I'm not sure if such a plan is possible in the time they are talking about. Biologically it might be possible, but politically I'm not sure."


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See also:

25 Aug 02 | Africa
25 Aug 02 | Science/Nature
22 Aug 02 | Africa
06 Aug 02 | Africa
27 Aug 02 | Africa
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