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EDITIONS
Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 18:07 GMT
Fish protest takes to the streets
Fishing demo
Campaigners sought support from MSPs
Hundreds of campaigners have marched on the Scottish Parliament to protest against proposals for massive cuts in white fish catches in the North Sea.

Demonstrators presented a 44,000-signature petition to highlight the plight of the industry.

Fishermen's leaders have claimed that more than 20,000 jobs are under threat due to the European Union proposals.

Scientists have called for a total ban on cod fishing in the North Sea in an effort to conserve dwindling stocks.

Scottish Parliament
Marchers will descend on the parliament
They have also recommended a moratorium on catching other species, such as haddock and whiting.

The European Fisheries Commissioner, Franz Fischler, has since said that he wants an 80% cut in fishing for cod, haddock and whiting an alternative to total closure.

Scottish fishing leaders have warned that cutbacks on such a scale would signal the end for the industry.

The Save our Fishing Communities Campaign was set up by three Fraserburgh fishermen's wives - Carol MacDonald, Caroline Bruce and Morag Ritchie.

The group's protest began with a public meeting at the Augustine Church on Edinburgh's George IV Bridge, chaired by SNP MP Alex Salmond.

Arbout 300 fishermen and their families heard messages of support from Sir Sean Connery and Rangers manager Alex McLeish as well as speeches from a cross-party group of MSPs.

At the end of the meeting, organisers presented the petition to John McAllion MSP, convenor of the Public Petitions Committee, and Winnie Ewing MSP, the mother of the house.

'Constructive' talks

Campaigners then met with fisheries minister Ross Finnie.

Carol MacDonald said: "We found a lot of common ground. He did agree with us that an 80% cut was ludicrous and said it was just not feasible.

"He wouldn't promise anything but I would say he has more fighting spirit than Elliott Morley and I think that he should lead the British delegation."

Meanwhile Mr Finnie said the meeting had been "very constructive".

He said: "The discussion simply underlined the importance of the decisions that will be reached at the December Fisheries' Council and the effect they may have on these communities.

"I will continue to work with Scotland's fishing communities to ensure the interests of these communities are prominently reflected in the UK's agreed negotiating position."

See also:

27 Nov 02 | Scotland
21 Nov 02 | Scotland
11 Nov 02 | Scotland
11 Nov 02 | Scotland
31 Oct 02 | Scotland
30 Oct 02 | Scotland
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