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The BBC's Liz Mackean
"Over-fishing and climate change made drastic cuts inevitable"
 real 28k

The BBC's Peter Hunt
"Any increase could be absorbed by the producer and suppliers"
 real 28k

Plymouth fisherman Dave Pestle
"The quota system is an absolute failure"
 real 28k

Friday, 17 December, 1999, 20:09 GMT
Fishermen's fury at quota cuts

fishermen Fishermen say politicians have failed them

Fishermen are predicting widespread job losses and bankruptcies after European fishing ministers ordered drastic cuts in quotas to conserve depleted stocks.

After 17 hours of talks, EU governments decided that the numbers of cod caught in the Irish Sea must fall by 60%, and those caught in the North Sea by 39%.

It will undoubtedly mean more fishermen out of work
Dave Pestle
Dave Pestle, who represents Plymouth fishermen said the cuts were a "disaster" for the industry in the south west.

"It's been calculated that we have lost about 7m worth of fish in the south west and our quotas were already unviable," he said.

"The infrastructure of the very ports and harbours is going to be threatened by these cuts.

"It will undoubtedly mean more fishermen out of work. Hundreds have already lost their livelihoods and this will see a continuation of that until there are so few left it won't be an industry at all."

Claim 'nonsense'

Fisheries minister Elliot Morley said he had secured the "best possible deal" for UK fishermen.

But Mr Pestle said the claims were "absolute nonsense".

British UK politicians had failed to stand up for the industry and had "persisted with a system for 16 years which has failed year after year".

Mr Pestle said the quota cuts were unnecessary and resulted from British fishermen not getting a fair share of stocks.

Nathan de Rozarieuz: Nathan de Rozarieuz: "Absolutely dreadful quotas"
"There is an unjust imbalance - in the English Channel for example the French can catch 10 times as many cod and six times as many whiting as us.

"The French fishermen are more militant in putting pressure on their politicians - we tend to give ours an easy time for quite frankly doing a very bad job."

Nathan de Rozarieuz of the Cornish Fisher Producers, said: "These quotas are absolutely dreadful and just adds to the misery of the last 16 years of the quota system."

A spokesman for the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations told BBC News Online that the quota system was too blunt an instrument.

Pinpointing specific areas such as spawning grounds would have a greater affect, without damaging fishermen's livelihoods.

He said: "We need to decentralise the quota system. You could get this sort of agreement on a UK level, but the European system is too blunt."

But government scientists say the average age of several species is declining as stocks dwindle and there is a real danger of stocks becoming exhausted.

Chief fisheries advisor Dr Joe Horwood said: "Stocks of fish are at risk of falling below critical threshold levels below which the production of young is impaired.

"Thus there is a danger of being on a downward spiral of fewer fish producing even fewer young."

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See also:
17 Dec 99 |  UK
Fish shops battered by cuts
17 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Fish deal was 'best possible'
16 Dec 99 |  Europe
EU fish quota slashed
16 Dec 99 |  Europe
Fishermen fight Brussels cuts
17 Dec 99 |  UK
'Appalling waste' of fish quotas
12 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Fishermen's anger at moves to cut quotas
24 Aug 99 |  UK
Tuna fishermen fight ban
16 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
Rodgers: Fish quota cuts mitigated
17 Dec 99 |  Wales
Welsh fishermen face bleak future
17 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Fishermen face heavy quota cuts

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