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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 17:56 GMT
EU backs calls for end to cod fishing
Cod
Cod stocks have been devastated by over-fishing
A panel of European Union scientific experts has backed calls for a virtual shutdown of key fishing grounds.

A committee advising the European Commission endorsed last month's report by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.


The impact of these scientific recommendations would be catastrophic to the British fishing industry

Struan Stevenson
The independent body of scientists called for a total ban on fishing for cod in the North Sea, Irish Sea and waters off the west coast of Scotland.

They also recommended a moratorium on catching other species such as haddock and whiting, where cod is often caught by mistake.

The commission said the details of the latest report were being studied carefully ahead of crucial talks with fishing industry representatives on 18 November.

Earlier, fisheries commissioner Franz Fischler held out hope at talks in Dublin that limited fishing could be allowed to continue next year.

But he said the committee advice was clear: "The surest way forward is a closure of the cod and associated fisheries."

Fishermen pressure

Fishermen's leaders have said that if a ban were put in place the industry faced ruin.

Struan Stevenson, chairman of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee and Scottish Conservative MEP, said: "The impact of these scientific recommendations would be catastrophic to the British fishing industry, costing upwards of 20,000 jobs and one billion pounds out of the UK economy."

Fishermen protesting on a boat
Proposed job cuts have lead to protests by fishermen
The commission has admitted that the social and economic effects of the measures would be great.

Last week, it earmarked $600m to help fishermen hurt by plans to reform the fishing industry.

Its report will be scrutinised by governments across the EU who will meet in Brussels next month for the annual allocation of fishing quotas.

Some, like Britain, are under strong pressure from their fishermen to resist attempts to cut quotas.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kirsty Lang
"The scientists say that within 18 months there could be no fish left"
See also:

05 Nov 02 | Scotland
28 Oct 02 | Europe
11 Nov 02 | Scotland
23 Oct 02 | Europe
25 Oct 02 | N Ireland
25 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
28 Oct 02 | England
23 Oct 02 | Scotland
15 Oct 02 | Scotland
24 May 02 | UK
01 May 02 | Science/Nature
11 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
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