Fish zone system hooked to eco-rape

April 21, 1995

Canada and Spain may have kissed and made up, but the future of the North Atlantic fishing industry remains in the balance because the 200-mile zone system enshrined in current international law allows "ecological rape", according to Newfoundland-born Tom Cooper of Warwick Business School.

Mr Cooper said that the Spanish government will have "a hard time selling the new deal to their fishermen". A long-term solution may not come about until there is international agreement on "sustainable development".

He adds that, in addition to the Grand Banks area off the Canadian coast, there are at least eight other sites - notably off the South American coast - where the 200-mile zone crosses critical spawning areas.

"Fish don't recognise 200-mile boundaries. Unless there is a worldwide agreement about this soon, it is likely that we will all be living off farmed fish for the rest of our lives," Mr Cooper said.

The Newfoundland fishing industry was effectively forced to shut down in 1992 because of declining fish stocks. Around 60,000 Newfoundland fishermen are on a special income support scheme - the Northern Cod Assistance Recovery Scheme - and the unemployment figure is about 40 per cent. The fish are not expected to return before the year 2000.

A tenth generation Newfoundlander, with strong links with the local fishing industry, Mr Cooper is completing a comparative study of the Newfoundland and Icelandic fishing industry. He claims that Iceland has developed a fishing system which should be adopted by other North Atlantic countries.

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