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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 20:32 GMT
Cod ban hope for fishermen
Fish processing
Thousands of fish processing jobs could be lost
A complete ban on trawling for cod in the North Sea could yet be avoided, BBC Scotland has been told by Franz Fischler.

Europe's fisheries commissioner said moves must be made to help stocks recover, but he said he was trying to avoid the total ban which has been called for by scientists.

Scientists fear cod stocks are near collapse and Mr Fischler said the European Commission must act in a responsible way.

The commissioner, speaking to BBC Newsnight Scotland, conceded that in past years the measures to protect cod stocks were not good enough.

Franz Fischler
Franz Fischler said he hoped to avoid a ban

Mr Fischler said that better and more drastic measures might now be needed, but he did say a total ban was a last resort.

It is understood he will make a decision about conservation moves next Monday after assessing a recommendation by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (Ices).

An Ices scientific report said cod stocks were at an all-time low and in imminent danger of collapse unless urgent action was taken.

Up to 20,000 jobs would be under threat in Scottish fishing communities if a North Sea cod ban is implemented.

Mr Fischler said: "We must act in a responsible way because until now in the past years, the measures introduced were not good enough, so therefore we need better and maybe drastic measures.

Scientific plan

"But as much as we can will try to avoid a total ban."

He said a plan involving many elements is needed over a number of years to allow cod stocks to recover, and that this would be developed with the help of scientists.

Hamish Morrison, the chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said Mr Fischler's statements were "entirely consistent" with his earlier position.

Mr Morrison said the commissioner regularly threatened Draconian measures, then hinted there might be another solution.

Mr Morrison said the industry would continue to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

See also:

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