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EDITIONS
Monday, 16 December, 2002, 15:21 GMT
Fish quota move set for delay
Fish protest
Scotland's fishing communities oppose cuts
A decision by the European Commission on proposals to make drastic cuts in cod quotas may be delayed until March.

The EC has tabled proposals to defer making a conclusion for three months with the decision being implemented in the summer.

Leaders of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation attending talks in Brussels have welcomed the prospect.

Chief executive Hamish Morrison said it would avoid a rush to reach a decision this month, allowing time for cod conservation measures to be worked out.

Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie: Involved in talks
Plans have been put forward for swingeing cuts in cod catches in the North Sea, Irish Sea and waters in the west of Scotland.

Scientists originally said a complete ban on catching cod and other white fish, which cannot be caught separately, was necessary to save stocks from extinction.

The European Commission has ruled out such a moratorium, but is seeking cuts of up to 80% in existing quotas.

'Failing system'

Mr Morrison said it was vital to safeguard the industry's future and fishermen must be included in the decision making process.

He believed scientists and officials panicked after the progressive recovery plan yielded a 27% increase in cod stocks.

Proposals from the EC earlier this month recommend the number of cod caught should be cut next year by 66% in the North Sea to 16,800 tonnes, by 63% in the Irish Sea, and by 79% off the west of Scotland.

Fish placard
Fishermen believe the industry is in danger

Catches for white fish such as haddock, whiting, plaice and sole should also be drastically reduced.

Scottish National Party fishing spokesman Richard Lochhead said the European Commission was struggling to "dig itself out of a hole".

He said: "The commission must not be allowed to get away with linking a breathing space to the imposition of draconian measures and viable interim quotas for the white fish fleet must be guaranteed."

Nostalgia warning

Mr Lochhead also criticised comments from Labour MEP Bill Miller, after the latter suggested that drastic changes in the fishing were an inevitable part of long-term decline.

Mr Miller said: "I think a lot of attention has been paid to the fishing industry and I think what we should be doing is looking to the fishing industry to see what we can do it help it out. But we have to realise that fishing is a declining industry.

"We should be looking to the future not wrapping ourselves in nostalgia."


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16 Dec 02 | Science/Nature
09 Dec 02 | Scotland
05 Dec 02 | Scotland
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