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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 14:48 GMT
Fishing fleets hail new quotas
Cod on the deck of a boat
Environmentalists are "quite shocked" at the EU's decision
UK fishing fleets have praised new EU fishing quotas agreed after marathon negotiations in Brussels on Wednesday.

The deal reached by ministers means cod fishing grounds in the North Sea, Irish Sea and the west of Scotland, earlier threatened with closure, can stay open.

Jim Portus, head of the South West Fish Producers' Organisation, said he was hoping for a "rosy future" for fishing.

But environmentalists say the deal will not do any good for the long-term prospects of the industry.

The minister and his team have really done their job
Rick Smith
Brixham Trawler Agency

UK fisheries minister Ben Bradshaw helped to negotiate the deal during a 20-hour meeting with his European counterparts.

At the end of the talks, he declared that the needs of the fishing industry and conservationists had been met.

"The deal strikes the right balance between maintaining a viable UK fishing industry and one that contributes to protecting our marine environment," he said.

He believes the EU recognised UK fishing fleets' contribution to conserving fishing stocks.

'Pleasantly surprised'

But he insisted tougher measures would be enforced if the conservation problem was not reversed.

"The UK has signalled its support for more radical measures in the future, including closed areas, if the state of the stock does not improve," he said.

Fishermen in the south west of England - where quotas on some fish were increased - were pleased with the results.

The fishermen might be celebrating now, but we don't think these measures will help the industry at all
Helen Davies

Mr Portus said the deal was "brilliant" news for the fishing industry.

Rick Smith, of the Brixham Trawler Agency, in Devon, said the quotas came about because scientists had listened to the fishermen.

He said scientists had come out on industry vessels to see fish stocks for themselves and had been "pleasantly surprised" by the numbers of fish.

"The minister and his team have really done their job and come back with some good news - especially in time for Christmas," he added.


But other industry figures were more cautious.

Hamish Morrison, of the Scottish Fisheries Association, drew attention to "how very far the industry has regressed" in recent years.

"What this agreement does today is stop the rot," he said.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is not impressed with the EU's actions.

Helen Davies, WWF's fishing policy manager, said she was "shocked" that proposals to close fishing areas had been shelved.

She said: "The fishermen might be celebrating now, but we don't think these measures will help the industry at all.

"Stocks of cod are dangerously low - they are a third of the level they need to reproduce themselves."

The organisation has called for a "massive increase in political will" to solve the "fisheries crisis".

Watch secret night footage of fishing boats

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