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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 20:17 GMT
EU fisheries chief hits out on cuts
Cod Crusaders meet the fisheries commissioner Franz Fischler
Cod Crusaders meet the fisheries commissioner Franz Fischler
The EU's fisheries commissioner has warned that he will impose an emergency ban on cod fishing in the North Sea if there is any delay in agreeing extensive cuts in quotas for next year.

The warning came as fishermen's wives from Fraserburgh met Franz Fischler in Brussels to appeal for a reprieve.

They handed over a video letter to the commissioner warning of the dire effects of proposed drastic cuts in whitefish catches.

Carol Macdonald, who led the group, was then allowed to make a direct plea to the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee.

Carol MacDonald
Carol MacDonald: Cod Crusader

Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson, who chairs the committee, demanded that the commissioner send his plans for approval to the European Parliament.

But Commissioner Fischler warned that if this happens, he will invoke his emergency powers - which could include a complete ban on catching key species.

Carol MacDonald, Caroline Bruce and Morag Ritchie, from Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, have set up the Save our Fishing Communities Campaign.

The so-called Cod Crusaders travelled to Brussels to present Mr Fischler with a video diary spelling out the devastating impact they said his proposed conservation measures would have on Scottish fishing communities.

More research

The commissioner accepted the video with good grace, but inside the fisheries committee he was uncompromising.

MEPs had raised the stakes by demanding that they be consulted on the commission's new proposals for quota cuts before they go to the council of fisheries ministers for a decision.

The delay would allow time for more research into the state of the fish stocks.

Scotland MEP Struan Stevenson said: "We believe that we should be consulted and we hope that the council next week will apply interim measures until we have concluded the consultation process."

Carol MacDonald
Carol MacDonald: Cod Crusader

But Mr Fischler said if the cuts were delayed he would impose an emergency ban on North Sea fishing.

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

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

They also recommended a moratorium on catching other species, such as haddock and whiting.

Mr Fischler has since said that he wants an 80% cut in fishing for cod, haddock and whiting as an alternative to total closure.

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

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 ON THIS STORY
Angus Roxburgh reports
"The fisheries commissioner had a devastating response."
See also:

05 Dec 02 | Scotland
27 Nov 02 | Scotland
21 Nov 02 | Scotland
11 Nov 02 | Scotland
11 Nov 02 | Scotland
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