Brussels, 29 Oct 2002
A ban on fishing in many of the EU's waters could be implemented following advice from scientific advisors on 25 October.
Scientists have, for a number of years, been warning about a depletion of fish stocks, in particular of cod. The International council for the exploration of the sea (ICES) is now recommending the closure of all fisheries catching cod as a target species or as a by-catch in the Eastern Channel, Skagerrak, the North Sea, the Irish Sea and west of Scotland.
'I don't want to say 'I told you so'. But it is galling, after repeatedly warning of the dire consequences of inaction, to see our worst fears realised and to be now faced with recommendations for a moratorium on some cod fisheries,' said EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, Franz Fischler, commenting on the advice.
Mr Fischler said that he is 'duty-bound' to think about whether there are any alternatives to a moratorium. The Commission's own scientific and economic committee is currently evaluating the ICES advice, and will give its opinion on 11 November.
The Commissioner used science to justify pushing for a recovery plan for cod: 'Can anyone still say that the Commission's proposed recovery plan for cod, issued almost a year ago and still not adopted, goes too far? Can anyone still argue against a profound reform of the Common Fisheries Policy? I think not. Political inaction will not save our fish stocks or our fishing industry. What is required is courage and vision,' said Mr Fischler.
For further information, please visit: http://www.ices.dk/committe/acfm/comwork /report/asp/acfmrep.asp