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Wednesday, 13 June, 2001, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Fishermen condemn quota cuts
North Sea trawlers
Fishermen say reduced quotas will not boost cod stocks
Fishermen working on the North East coast have accused the European Commission (EC) of trying to destroy their livelihoods.

They say proposals by the EC to cut cod and hake catches in the North Sea by 50% will continue the "desolation" of the UK fishing industry.

Many fear they will be forced out of business.

But EC scientists say overfishing in the North Sea is now so severe that only three out of 10 cod reach maturity.

Fishermen will continue to lose millions of pounds invested in boats

David Horsley, NFFO
David Horsley, Chair of the North East Area Committee of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisation (NFFO) said the proposals were "absolutely diabolical".

He said: "The quota system doesn't work, it has been like this for 20 years. This move will desolate the industry.

"You can't avoid catching too much fish - so if you are over your quota, you have to throw it back dead, so the stocks are not actually protected at all.

Crews unavailable

"Every fisherman realises that stocks of fish have to be protected, because if there's no fish then there's no fishermen, but this is not the way to deal with it," he added.

Mr Horsley said that there were already scores of fishing boats lying idle because of previous cuts.

Fishermen are already struggling to make a living
"You've got boats right up the North East coast that simply can't recruit crews already," he said.

"This 50% cut is going to make matters even worse."

According to current statistics the cuts will affect more than 1,500 fishermen in the region.

Mr Horsley said: "More and more fishermen will be off with stress, and will continue to lose millions of pounds they have invested in boats."

Recovery period

Brussels, however, says a long-term plan to scale back fishing fleets is the only effective response to the crisis - but admits this will lead to job losses.

Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the NFFO, says there has to be a balanced approach to dealing with the problem.

He said: "What's needed is to organise fishing of non-cod species, such as whiting, which can be done by adjusting the mesh size of nets."

He said this would allow the cod stocks to recover, whilst helping fishermen stay in business.

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See also:

13 Jun 01 | Europe
Call to slash fish quotas
20 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Fish and chips under threat
08 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Warm water threat to North Sea cod
17 Nov 00 | Europe
EU battles to save cod
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Plenty more fish in the sea?
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