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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK
Call for 'virtual ban' on cod fishing
Fishing - generic
The report calls for financial aid for fishermen
The European Union is being urged to take "drastic measures" to stop North Sea stocks of cod and hake being "totally wiped out".

The call came from a House of Lords Committee following an inquiry into reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.

The committee recommends that a ban on cod fishing may be the only route to take.

Its report warns that Scottish and other UK coastal communities will need transitional financial aid to survive job losses in the fishing industry.

Chairman of the inquiry Lord Selborne said: "Stocks of North Sea cod and hake have been devastated by years of over-fishing, so the EU must take drastic measures to stop them being totally wiped out.

"A virtual ban on fishing cod will be a bitter but crucial pill for Scotland's fishing communities to swallow. Fishermen will need transitional financial aid, linked to stock recovery plans.

Fleets need to be substantially reduced and the size of the catches reduced to match the reality of dangerously low fish stocks
Lord Selborne

"We can only hope to create a sustainable fishing industry when short-sighted EU member states stop hi-jacking the commission's excellent plans for long-term reform.

"Fishermen and other key players need to be at the heart of fisheries management through their involvement in Regional Advisory Councils."

The committee is urging the UK Government to promote diversification of coastal economies and develop alternative employment opportunities for fishermen.

The government should also press the EU Council of Ministers to adopt cod and hake recovery plans without further delay and make much greater use of direct controls of fishing effort, the committee said.

The Lords report, Progress of Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, also calls on the Council of Ministers to stop using EU funds to support new fishing vessel building.

Cod
The committee warns cod may be wiped out
It warns that fisheries ministers' failure to agree to European Commission plans for fisheries sector reform has seriously endangered what is left of European fish stocks.

Lord Selborne added: "While the package includes some positive features - including a stronger commitment to the marine environment - overall the reforms are extremely disappointing.

"It's absurd that European taxpayers continue to subsidise over-capacity in this sector.

"Fleets need to be substantially reduced and the size of the catches reduced to match the reality of dangerously low fish stocks."

The report concludes that fishermen, scientists, environmentalists and consumers need to be at the heart of the management process in fishing regions.


SEE ALSO:
Mixed reaction to cod plans
06 May 03  |  Scotland
Fish stocks hit record lows
02 May 03  |  Europe
Rates relief over fishing crisis
11 Mar 03  |  Scotland


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