Sunday, November 25, 2007

Go Fish

But don't bring any home to the UK:

Although fish stocks, including cod, are growing, almost a million tons of fish caught in trawler nets are being discarded every year because the fishermen have passed their official quota levels.

Jonathan Shaw, the fisheries minister, has pledged to call for a "modest" increase in Britain's quotas at next month's meeting in Brussels.

....The quota system is forcing crews to throw millions of pounds worth of dead fish back into the water ever year because they are banned from bringing fish to shore once they have reached their quotas.

The EU, which has cut cod quotas steadily in recent years, is likely to reject the Government's calls for higher limits. The UK's total cod quota was reduced last year from 9,037 to 7,773 tons.

A Sunday Telegraph investigation last week found that British fishermen in the Channel were throwing back almost six times as much fish as they were landing - because they reached their monthly quota after only two days.

....Dennis Clark, the skipper of a 60ft trawler, Luc, based in North Shields, said the quotas had pushed Britain's fishing industry "to the brink".

"Green groups have seen to it that quotas have been cut wafer thin but we don't feel there is any justification for them," he said.

"Fisheries science is not exact. Three years ago we were told cod was extinct and now it's everywhere. The cod will come back when the conditions are right."

Mr Clark said the restrictions had forced a growing number of large trawlers to opt to work as "guard ships" on pipeline and cable-laying operations, earning £1,500 a day, more than double what the trawlers would earn on a good day's fishing.

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