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Fishermen have been struggling with soaring fuel prices. Things might get worse as the Commission has proposed drastic cut in fishing quotas in 2009

The British fishing industry is falling apart. The catch restrictions have been leading to millions of tons of dead fish being thrown back into the sea. The measures for fishery resources management, the total allowable catch (TAC) and quota system are not operating effectively. It is clear that the Common Fisheries Policy does not work therefore it should be repatriated to Westminster.

On 10 November 2008 the European Commission presented its proposal on fishing possibilities and fishing effort for 2009 for the main stocks in the North-East Atlantic, including the North Sea. The Commission has pointed out that “Most stocks of fish continue to be overfished in 2008” therefore according to the Commission “in order to build a healthy industry for the future, we need to fish less in the short term.”

The Commission has stressed that the stocks of cod, haddock and whiting are overfished in the area west of Scotland therefore it called for a targeted ban on fishing of these species. The Commission has proposed 25% reductions in both quotas and fishing intensity on those stocks. The Commission also introduced a system of effort limitations for cod fisheries measured by kilowatt-day ceilings as a replacement of the 'days-at-sea' system applied in 2008. The Commission has also proposed a 25% reduction in herring quotas for the West Scotland stock and a zero TAC for spurdog and porbeagl deep-water sharks. The Commission proposed to introduce two protection zones in the area west of Scotland to protect blue ling spawning aggregations. The Commission also recommended that anchovy fishing in the Bay of Biscay to remain closed next year.

As Struan Stevenson MEP, Conservative fisheries spokesman said "For the past decade, the European Commission has resorted to tougher and tougher regulations and controls to save dwindling fish stocks (…)” which “(…) have served only to destroy thousands of jobs in the fishing industry, while fish stocks have continued to plummet.” Therefore, “It is time the commission realised that micro-managing a complex fisheries sector from behind a desk in Brussels is the problem, not the solution." Moreover, he said “This annual unedifying haggle over quota cuts must be brought to an end and replaced with a ban on discards and a policy based strictly on a limit to the number of days a fishing vessel can go to sea."

The Fisheries Council will discuss the Commission’s proposal on 17-19 December when it will agree on TACs for 2009.


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Bill Cash has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Stone since 1997 and an MP since 1984.

He is currently the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee and the founder member of the European Foundation...

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