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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 June, 2003, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Cod plan 'failing' communities
Cod in boxes in market
Cod stocks are at their lowest for 20 years
The president of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation has said that he remains fearful for the future of many coastal communities in light of recent restrictions imposed by the European Commission.

Alex Smith said that while the measures do not guarantee recovery of cod stocks they are having a major impact on the viability of the industry.

The commission imposed drastic cuts in the amount of white fish that could be landed six months ago in a bid to aid the recovery of declining cod stocks in the North Sea.

Further reductions in the size of the Scottish fishing fleet are also expected to be announced soon.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Smith said: "We all want to see the cod recover but the reality is that there's no guarantee that it will recover.

'Kilowatt days'

"Bearing in mind that cod makes up less than 10% of our annual catch what do we do?

"Do we stop everybody fishing everything else in an attempt to save the cod and put people out of business and communities in the position where their infrastructure falls down all together?

"My answer to that is no."

Last month the commission announced a recovery plan to save cod from extinction in the North Sea and other fishing grounds around Britain.

Fishing boats in harbour
More trawlers are expected to be scrapped
It said that year-on-year negotiations on catch quotas would be replaced by long-term cod fishing limits to preserve the dangerously low stocks.

Practically, the fishing effort for every trawler catching cod will be calculated in "kilowatt days" - a figure reached by multiplying the boat's engine power by the days spent fishing.

Governments will then be given a fixed allocation of these kilowatt days to distribute among the fleet.

In practice, the restrictions and the recovery plan are expected to result in more days spent in port, redundancies and the scrapping of trawlers.

Mr Smith's latest comments come weeks after scientists said that cod stocks around the British coast were so low that fishing should be stopped until they recover.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices), which co-ordinates marine research in the north Atlantic, said the number of young North Sea cod in early 2003 was the lowest for 20 years.

Cod crisis 'worse than thought'
11 Jun 03  |  Europe
EU tightens cod fishing rules
06 May 03  |  Europe
'If we can't fish, we can't live'
18 Feb 03  |  England

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