BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Saturday, 21 December, 2002, 12:53 GMT
Fury over EU fish quota deal
Cod at a market in Suffolk
Scientists had urged for a one-year ban on cod fishing
British fishermen say their industry will be wiped out by a new European Union deal to slash cod catches by 45% next year.

The agreement, aimed at saving depleted fish stocks, came after marathon talks stretching over five days.

The 80% reduction originally proposed by EU ministers was reduced after direct pressure from the UK Government.

TARGETS
Graph showing stocks of cod since 1963
Cod catching cut 45% from last year
Fishermen allowed 15 days at sea, including travelling
North Sea stocks are so low, they could collapse if fishing is not suspended

The limit on fishing time is 15 days a month, down from the three weeks a month initially suggested.

But the watered down deal has still angered fishermen, who fear the quotas will cause bankruptcy.

The chairman of the UK National Federation of Fishermen, Barry Deas, described it as a "dark day for the fishing industry" and the deal a "hotchpotch that satisfies nobody".

The cuts will have the biggest impact in Scotland, and president of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, Alex Smith, described the proposals as "devastating".

He said no other industry could function when limited to just a few days a month.

And he added: "It is immoral to treat people like this."

UK Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley told BBC News: "We could not put more fish in the sea, but what we have done is try to minimise the effect on our fishing industry as far as we can."

Open in new window : An end to fishing?
How one family has seen its livelihood dry up

Mr Morley and his Scottish counterpart Ross Finnie promised to hold talks with the industry to discuss the impact of the deal.

John Buchan, skipper of the Peterhead-based trawler Fairline, said he and his six-man crew faced bankruptcy, but were prepared to defy the ban.

"The effect will be horrendous. It's like a factory closing down in each of seven or eight towns," he said.

"This has got nothing to do with fish - it's a political decision, make no mistake about it."

North Sea Fishing Cuts
Cod: 49,300 to 27,300
Whiting: 41,000 to 16,000
Haddock: 104,000 to 51,000

*in tonnes, 2002 to 2003
The fishermen also claim they have come off far worse than their European counterparts.

French fishermen saw an increase in the permitted catch of saithe, a staple fish in France, and there was more herring for the Dutch and the Danes.

But the European Commission said that the most drastic action was needed in British waters, due to years of over-fishing and inefficient monitoring.

Scientists had warned the European Commission that a year's ban on cod fishing was required for stocks to recover.

And environmentalists were also left unsatisfied by the quotas.

Julie Cator, of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, said: "Today's package is bad news for cod stocks in the North Sea and really could be the death penalty."

The compromise was put forward by Denmark which holds the presidency of the EU.

It would have been more effective for scientists and fishermen to decide and instigate measures to protect juvenile fish stocks

Andrew George MP
Lib Dem rural affairs and fisheries spokesman
The deal came late on Friday - after UK Prime Minister Tony Blair had made a telephone call to his Danish counterpart, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in an attempt to end the deadlock.

He is said to have stressed that the issue was not just about fish stocks, but also about jobs and livelihoods.

Andrew George MP, Liberal Democrat rural affairs and fisheries spokesman, said: "Instead of emphasising the numbers of days at sea, it would have been more effective for scientists and fishermen to decide and instigate measures to protect juvenile fish stocks."

Spain and Greece also won a compromise to maintain public subsidies to use on fleets of fishing boats.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Pallab Ghosh reports from Peterhead
"The government says there will be compensation to soften the blow"
  Elliot Morley, Fisheries Minister
"It is inevitable that the outcome was going to be very difficult"
  Peter Bruce, Scottish fisherman
"It is just a disaster"

Latest news

Background & analysis

In pictures
See also:

21 Dec 02 | Scotland
20 Dec 02 | Scotland
19 Dec 02 | Europe
18 Dec 02 | Europe
16 Dec 02 | Europe
16 Dec 02 | Science/Nature
28 May 02 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes