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EDITIONS
 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 15:33 GMT
Q&A: Fishing quotas
Fishermen across Europe are furious after European Union ministers agree a deal which will require a 45% cut in cod fishing quotas. BBC Scotland correspondent Colin Blane looks at the winners and losers in the deal.

Q: So are quotas likely to help cod stocks?

A: Nobody knows. Everyone hopes it might make a difference but nobody knows whether cod stocks can recover. In Newfoundland, Canada stocks reached a certain level and then plummeted and have never recovered so there is that fear in the background as well.

Q: What do the quotas mean for the fishermen?

The reason Scottish fishermen are so upset is that a large part of what they catch is white fish - cod, haddock and whiting - and the big cuts in the North Sea are for cod (a 45% cut). But there are also cuts in what is allowed for whiting and haddock.

The mood here is very grim. I have been working in an around Scotland for 20 years and started off in my time at the BBC in the north east of Scotland so I know what happens in these fishing ports and it will make a big difference. These communities are very close and have suffered tremendous grief in the past. You can be sure that Peterhead and Fraserburgh are pretty gloomy places at the moment.

Q: Who came off worst in the deal?

A: Almost no one would dispute the British are the worst affected and the Scots in particular because the Scots have the largest white fish fleet, they work in the North Sea and it is principally North Sea cod that is affected. Other countries managed to get something for their fishermen - there were deals for the French, the Danes and the Irish - there were things they could take back to their fleets. But the Scots, in particular those in the north east of Scotland around Fraserburgh and Peterhead are very, very worried.

Q: Are the environmentalists happy with this deal?

A: No, not at all. The Swedes and the Germans were against it. Other environmental bodies have spoken out separately and those bodies - separate from the government - have said no, we cannot afford to carry on fishing at all.

Q: So will there be big jobs losses?

A: Yes. One of the reasons it is so hard is that fishermen, skippers and their crews are all self-employed so they do not qualify for redundancy. They work usually on a share of the catch, so they are all effectively independent entrepreneurs.

For every fishing job at sea they always say there are four which would go on land - processing jobs, fish porters at the markets and transport jobs. There will be a huge knock-on effect.

Q: So what is happening in Monday's talks?

A: These talks are not expected to solve anything. Senior ministers and fishermen's leaders will be looking at compensation packages and ways in which fishermen might be able to work with the quotas.


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23 Dec 02 | Scotland
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