Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fishermen Win a Lifeline from EU

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fishermen Win a Lifeline from EU

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

Fishermen in the North-East last night landed the right to catch more haddock and prawns - but the deal could still see cod stocks driven to near commercial extinction, it was claimed.

Bob Casson, North Sea representative and one of a team from the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, arrived back at his North Shields home after 30 hours of tough talks in Brussels with news of a 55pc increase in haddock quotas because of a rise in stock numbers.

Fishermen were also granted a 28pc rise for prawn catches.

It is hoped that the increases will take the pressure off cod, whose "very low" quota stays unchanged from last year.

But according to scientists, the number of young cod in the North Sea in the first quarter of this year was the lowest for 20 years.

Newcastle University Prof Chris Frid said: "Overall the industry has probably done better than it would have expected and better than the state of the stocks would warrant."

But he warned that continued catches of cod could effectively drive the stocks towards commercial extinction in the North Sea.

"If you are going to fish for haddock you will also catch cod. There has been massive mismanagement of the fisheries.

"If stocks had been managed sustainably we could take a harvest, but deals done in the past have got us to this currently perilous state."

Quotas for North Sea plaice have been cut by 17pc and those for whiting and hake stay the same.

Mr Casson said last night: "It is better than we expected. We have had to suffer the pain in the past and for those left in the industry, if the quotas stay on an upward trend, it should be okay. We are a little bit happier. We knew we were never going to get an increase in cod and we thought there may even be a cut so there is light at the end of the tunnel. …

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