Page last updated at 20:03 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Fish plan 'bombshell' condemned

Fishing boat
The EU said the move is vital to protect stocks

Scottish fishing leaders say EU proposals to close a substantial area of the west coast to commercial fishing have come as an industry bombshell.

The measures, set to be introduced next year from west of Shetland, would hit important species such as cod, haddock and whiting.

The European Commission said the move was vital to protect stocks.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said he hoped the worst of the measures could be seen off in negotiations.

The measures affect waters at depths less than 200 metres and will also affect prawn fisherman who also catch white fish.

Many fishing vessels will go to the wall because if they can't fish in the traditional fishing grounds where else can they go?
George MacRae
Scottish White Fish Producers' Association

Kenneth Patterson, from the European Commission, said: "The situation is serious enough that the scientific committees concerned have advised a closure or reduction to the lowest possible level for cod, haddock and whiting.

"Having said that, our intentions would be to let the largest part of fishing activity, that doesn't catch cod, haddock and whiting, continue with as little impact as possible."

Fishing boat skipper James Reid, from Fraserburgh, said: "There are a lot of little islands and this fish is their only source of income so to close that is a disaster."

George MacRae, from the Scottish White Fish Producers' Association, said: "It's a bombshell. Communities will really struggle. Many fishing vessels will go to the wall because if they can't fish in the traditional fishing grounds where else can they go?

"Some of these boats might well come into the North Sea, creating more pressure on stocks that we are trying to do so much to conserve and regenerate at the moment."

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