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Last Updated: Friday, 3 November 2006, 19:28 GMT
Fishing report 'ignores reality'
Cod
The report warned of fish stocks collapse within 50 years
A dire warning about the future of fish stocks is a doomsday prediction which ignores reality, a Scottish fishing body has said.

An international team of scientists, writing in US journal Science, said stocks could collapse within 50 years if commercial fishing is not curbed.

The UK Government is considering its response to the warning.

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation said strenuous efforts were being made to make fishing in the UK sustainable.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said the mistakes in the report came from "extrapolation" of current circumstances into the future.

He said: "We have the strongest objections to the superficial nature of this report.

No complete ban

"It takes a ridiculously long timescale and does not mention the efforts being made in Europe to recover stocks as quickly as we can.

"It is a doomsday prediction that ignores the reality of what the world is actually trying to do to remove the ills that it describes."

Mr Armstrong said much was being done to halt the decline of marine biodiversity.

He added: "With respect to fisheries there has been much effort made to make exploitation of a natural renewable resource sustainable and that is where we are approaching now."

The international study said supplies of fish such as cod were under threat from over-fishing and habitat destruction.

UK Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw said the warning represented the biggest global environment challenge after global warming.

'Alarmist scaremongering'

But he ruled out a complete ban on cod fishing, saying a "zero catch" would see "the end of all fishing in the UK".

Richard Lochhead, the SNP's fisheries spokesman, said: "This report is alarmist scaremongering that is largely irrelevant to Scottish waters where the vast majority of stocks are booming and some are even at record levels.

"Of the key stocks in our waters, the situation facing North Sea cod is by far the exception rather than the rule.

"The reason why cod stocks have changed has yet to be identified although global warming is now being seen as a major influence on that particular stock and fishermen can't exactly be blamed for that."

Ted Brocklebank, the Scottish Conservatives fisheries spokesman, said: "Only when we are in a position directly to conserve our own stocks can we ensure that we will have a chance to build upon them."

He said it was encouraging that fishermen were reporting an increase in cod stocks.


SEE ALSO
North Sea cod fishing ban urged
20 Oct 06 |  Science/Nature
'Critical danger' warning on fish
04 Jan 06 |  Science/Nature

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