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Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 07:46 GMT
Fish stocks 'failure' attacked
A House of Lords committee has branded the failure of successive governments to do something about dwindling fish stocks as "disgraceful".
The peers have also attacked the European Union's common fisheries policy, calling it a failure.
A report by the House of Lords EU committee says that the common fisheries policy (CFP) has failed to achieve its main goal - a sustainable fishery.
The committee's Conservative chairman - the Earl of Selbourne - says stocks of many species of fish in European community waters are now at critically low levels.
He believes Europe's fisheries ministers must now face up to their collective responsibility and bring fishing activity down to sustainable levels - as part of discussions to reform the CFP.
Meanwhile, Scotland's fishing fleet is anxiously awaiting the outcome of negotiations in Brussels about European Commission plans to cut fishing quotas.
Fishermen's leaders have warned that the planned cuts will mean thousands of job losses in the industry.
They say they accept the need for conservation measures, but insist the proposals being mooted are unfair.
The commission wants to bring in stringent new controls in a 15,000 square mile area of the far reaches of the North Sea, taking in nearly half of the traditional grounds for the white fish fleet.
Scottish fishermen want the controls to extend to other areas of the North Sea.