Cod will disappear from British waters, warns watchdog

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Unless drastic measures are taken to conserve North Sea cod stocks they will disappear for good, a fisheries watchdog has warned.

Unless drastic measures are taken to conserve North Sea cod stocks they will disappear for good, a fisheries watchdog has warned.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) believes overfishing will cost the area its stocks of cod and also a species of hake unless its fishing industries are drastically curtailed, with as much as half of the sea made a no-go zone for fishermen.

This, predictably, has angered fishermen who said they are worried about the impact of further quota cuts on their industry.

Franz Fischler, the European Union fisheries commissioner, is visiting Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, as a guest of the Scottish Executive. He is due to hear about the hundreds of catching and fish processing jobs in the area which rely on the industry and about the impact stricter quotas will have on them.

ICES, an international scientific advisory body, is believed to favour a ban on fishing for cod in large areas of the North Sea to protect their breeding patterns and allow fish to live for long enough to become sexually mature and too breed. Overfishing can lead to them being caught too young which means fish stocks are not replenished.

The organisation is currently working on its annual report to EU ministers.

With North Sea catches now one-sixth of their numbers 20 years ago, conservationists fear cod may already have passed the point of no return and warn the current crisis in UK waters resembles a similar problem encountered of Newfoundland in 1992.

There is also evidence that cod breeding patterns are being affected by warming temperatures in the North Sea.

Comments