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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 16:34 GMT
Fish processors voice job fears
Fish processing
Thousands of fish processing jobs could be lost
Thousands of jobs in Scotland's fish processing industry will be lost if cod and haddock catches are banned, MPs have been warned.

Industry leaders met members of Westminster's backbench fisheries committee on Tuesday to voice their fears.

European Union scientists have proposed a total ban on cod fishing in an effort to conserve stocks.

Haddock and whiting catches could also be banned because cod can accidentally be caught in the same nets.

Boxes of fish
Processors "will be starved of raw goods"

Fishing industry leaders have questioned the research and warned that the "draconian" measure would mean the collapse of the Scottish fishing sector.

It has been suggested that this would cost the Scottish economy 50m and lead to the loss of between 10,000 and 15,000 jobs.

Several jobs on shore depend on every fisherman who puts to sea.

Leaders of the fish processing industry, which has factories around Scotland, met members of Westminster's fisheries committee on Tuesday.

They warned that processors will be starved of their raw goods if the European Commission proposals go ahead.

'Vital issue'

It is argued that imported fish could not make up the shortfall and that many firms would go to the wall.

The Scottish National Party's Angus Robertson was among the MPs to have had talks with the fishing industry representatives.

Angus Robertson
Angus Robertson met with fishing industry chiefs

The Moray MP said: "There are 20,000 jobs at stake in Scotland, yet the Westminster Government has shown indifference towards the Scottish fishing crisis.

"There has still been no emergency statement or debate at Westminster on this vital issue - unlike in the Scottish Parliament."

He added: "Key powers - including European representation - remain at Westminster."

Last week Scottish Fisheries Minister Ross Finnie said he was committed to finding "viable alternatives" to a complete ban on fishing for cod.

He told the Scottish Parliament that he rejected the proposals for the wholesale closure of the industry.

See also:

31 Oct 02 | Scotland
30 Oct 02 | Scotland
23 Oct 02 | Europe
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