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Saturday, 21 December, 2002, 15:31 GMT
Deal 'reduces pressure on fish stocks'
Fishermen protesting in St Austell
Cornish fishermen say they do not earn a living wage
As fishing communities take stock of a 45% drop in catch quotas, fisheries expert Alasdair McIntyre tells the BBC about why the action was deemed necessary and the impact it may have.

Many coastal communities will be approaching the New Year with some trepidation.

The fishing industry has struggled to stay afloat for several years now but the latest round of EU quotas make grim reading.

We could easily have a recovery in the next year or two but it could take quite a bit longer

Alasdair McIntyre, Aberdeen University

Officials in Brussels have delivered a 45% cut in North Sea cod catches and will only allow 15 days of fishing a month.

They argue that unless something is done to tackle depleted stocks some varieties could disappear altogether.

Alasdair McIntyre, a professor of fisheries from Aberdeen University, said the amount of fish caught had to be cut down considerably in order to safeguard future levels.

Prof McIntyre said: "Because of the two sides' almost incompatible goals, you have to have a compromise and I think that is what this agreement is striving for.

"It is going to do the best it can for both camps."

Interim measures

Prof McIntyre said it was almost impossible to predict with any accuracy when fish stocks would be back to a safe level.

Crewman on trawler deck   BBC
Livelihoods need support

He said: "It depends on nature and how spawning goes.

"If it is quite good then we could easily have a recovery in the next year or two but it could take quite a bit longer."

The current quotas regime runs out on 31 December hence the need to reach some sort of an agreement or the Commission will impose the measures it feels are best.

The new quotas will come into effect on 1 January 2003.

One area branded "unsustainable" by the UK Government is the reduction in fishing days.

But Prof McIntyre said the reduction in permitted time at sea would have an important effect.

He said a decrease in "fishing pressure" would allow fish levels to recover properly.


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21 Dec 02 | UK
11 Dec 02 | Politics
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