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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 13:16 GMT
Fishermen face new quota cuts
North Sea trawlers
Fishermen say reduced quotas will not boost cod stocks
Dramatic new cuts in fishing quotas have been put forward by the European Commission, which says stocks of some species are hitting rock bottom.


We now have our backs to the wall. The stocks are down and fishing pressure is too high

Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler
The heaviest of the proposed cuts would hit the Kattegat strait between Denmark and Sweden, where officials want to axe catches of cod by 60%.

It was another black day for European fisherman, said fisheries commissioner Franz Fischler, but he insisted that tough action was essential.

His other proposals include cutting catches in and around UK waters, such as:

  • Haddock in the Irish Sea by 52%
  • Sole in the North Sea by 25%
  • Plaice off the west of Scotland by 20%
  • Cod in the Irish Sea by 10%
Stocks of all main species, including cod and haddock, were now in "an alarming state", warned EU Fisheries Commissioner, Franz Fischler.

He said that unless drastic action was taken some species of fish would disappear altogether from the North Sea within two years.

New quotas for North Sea cod and hake will be announced later this month, as negotiations with Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands are still going on.

Overcapacity

Mr Fischler said too many boats were still competing for too few fish, and he added that the European fleet had a "substantial" overcapacity.

"The situation is still alarming," he said. "We now have our backs to the wall. The stocks are down ad fishing pressure is too high. If we are serious about securing the future of the European fisheries sector, there is no way around significant reductions in catches and fishing."

European ministers will meet later in December to decide whether to adopt the quotas.

Mr Fischler said they should show "courage and resolve" and go ahead with the cuts to ensure a sustainable industry.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Bilton
"These quotas could be a step too far"
See also:

13 Jun 01 | England
Fishermen condemn quota cuts
13 Jun 01 | Europe
Call to slash fish quotas
20 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Fish and chips under threat
08 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Warm water threat to North Sea cod
17 Nov 00 | Europe
EU battles to save cod
07 Sep 00 | Scotland
Plenty more fish in the sea?
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