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Scotland Calls for Radical Change to EU Fish Policy

SCOTLAND, UK - This summer, European fisheries ministers agreed to undertake a radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by 2012. Urgent action is required to conserve fish stocks, according to this EU article.

This summer, European fisheries ministers agreed to undertake a radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by 2012.

The Herald of Scotland reports that was a significant admission that the CFP, which has long been the despair of the fishing industry, particularly in Scotland, has been a disastrous failure.

The call for new regional management of fisheries to give member states more control over their own waters by the Inquiry into Future Fisheries Management will form part of the Scottish Government’s response to the EU Green paper, but any new system must put conservation first if fish stocks in Scottish waters are not to be wiped out beyond the point of no return.

The recent European Sea Angling Championships in the waters off Orkney brought in just one, single haddock from over 6,000 man hours of fishing. It is an embarrassment to the Scottish hosts of the competition, which attracted anglers from all over the world but much more seriously, it is the irrefutable evidence of the damage we have done to once-plentiful species.

The dearth of fish is blamed by the sea anglers on the removal of restrictions on trawlers 25 years ago. Recent conservation measures, including 21-day bans on certain areas and an increase in net size to avoid catching under-sized fish, however, have been credited with halting the decline. The latest report by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), in June, showed an increase in stocks of cod, haddock, whiting and monkfish in the North Sea.

Nevertheless, these are no more than the first signs of recovery. Moves to stop the 'dumping' – the scandalous throwing back into the sea of millions of tonnes of dead fish because they are undersized and because there is no quota trading system – are long overdue and that must be central to the reform of the CFP.

The EU fisheries commissioner has proposed replacing quotas for catches with a number of days at sea for each boat but the Scottish Fishermen's Federation has warned that may create other problems. Nevertheless, the livelihood of fishermen is not sustainable without conserving the fish, which are additionally threatened by climate change. A rise in temperature in the North Sea is forcing cold water fish further north and has unbalanced the eco-system, leaving some species without food.

The Herald article concludes that reform of the CFP must be effective, enforceable and adequately policed because Scotland's fish stocks are on the verge of collapse.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermens Federation, said: "We welcome this interim report as it forms an important part of the vital process of ensuring effective reform of the CFP. No-one should under-estimate the real urgency for a major overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy. There must be greater regional control of fisheries management and a transfer of responsibility to those best able to exercise it."

the Fish Site Editor

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