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Last Updated: Friday, 31 August 2007, 23:58 GMT 00:58 UK
Cod conservation scheme launched
The new scheme is aimed at conserving North Sea stocks
Scottish fishermen have become the first in Europe to implement a new voluntary scheme to conserve North Sea cod stocks.

The joint initiative developed by the industry and the Scottish government is taking effect across the entire Scottish fleet.

Skippers will sound the alert when they encounter stocks of small cod.

Areas will close when undersize cod are spotted to protect stocks which, if caught at present, must be discarded.

It is in all our interests that this succeeds
Bertie Armstrong
Scottish Fishermen's Federation

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "The new Scottish government pledged at the outset a fresh start for Scotland's fisheries. That means fresh thinking and taking the lead.

"I am very pleased that within a month of announcing discussions had been taking place with the industry, we are now able to put this scheme into practice.

"Skippers themselves will have a central role in the scheme ensuring best use is made of real-time information and action. This new approach is about responsibility."

'Real leadership'

He added: "We have worked closely with the Scottish fishing industry to develop this scheme. It is a testimony to their commitment to securing a viable future for Scotland's cod stock.

"I believe that this scheme will make a strong contribution to the recovery of cod stocks. Fishermen in Scotland are showing real leadership and are setting an example to the rest of Europe."

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF), said: "Scotland is leading the way in this area and we look for strong support from our European colleagues fishing the same waters. It is in all our interests that this succeeds.

"Extra encouragement is taken from the fact that the measure is a response to a very tangible resurgence of cod in the Northern fishing grounds."

It is not intended that the new voluntary scheme would replace existing statutory closures.

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