EU wants fishing ban in fifth of North Sea

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The Independent Online

Around a fifth of the North Sea would be closed to fishing next year under European Commission plans for an unprecedented ban to help rescue cod stocks from collapse.

Around a fifth of the North Sea would be closed to fishing next year under European Commission plans for an unprecedented ban to help rescue cod stocks from collapse.

"If we don't take measures which are quite tough now, the situation can only become worse," the EU fisheries commissioner Joe Borg said yesterday as he presented the proposals, which will be debated by EU ministers next week.

They follow the publication of another gloomy assessment from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution on Tuesday, which proposed a ban on commercial fishing in 30 per cent of UK waters.

After years of efforts to preserve stocks from the effects of hi-tech fishing fleets, the European Commission has adopted a more targeted strategy. This is designed to help conserve species in specific areas, while allowing better stocked waters to be exploited and cushion the economic impact on fishing communities.

Five areas, covering 20 per cent of the North Sea and which have higher concentrations of cod, would be closed for the year to allow species to recover. Officials say this is a better option for fishermen than reducing the number of days they are permitted to spend at sea, currently around 14 each month.

Quotas for other types of fish, including haddock, would be increased. The Commission wants a three-month closure in the Kattegat strait between Sweden and Denmark, and in the west of Scotland, where cod have all but disappeared, closed areas would be enlarged.

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