WWF, the global environment network, today
applauded the proposals for emergency measures to save the
North Sea cod agreed in overnight talks in Brussels.
For the first time in history a new agreement
will close a substantial system of zones in the North Sea
to all whitefish trawling. The areas ranging from Shetland
to the English Channel (see map available from WWF Press Office)
will be restricted from February to the end of April. The
closures go much further than expected and will not only protect
congregating cod during their breeding season but will also
prevent cod in the zones from being accidentally netted with
"This commitment to extensive regeneration
areas critical spawning and breeding zones that are
closed to allow fish stocks to recover is a huge step
forward," said Matthew Davis, WWF-UKs Campaign
"However, there is a great deal more
to be done. WWFs Oceans Recovery Campaign continues
to call for a pilot scheme of year-round Fishing-Free Zones
and investment in industry restructuring for sustainable fishing.
In the coming weeks and months we hope to build on our strong
partnerships with the fishing industry and press governments
to create other regeneration initiatives," added Davis.
WWF says that unless European Union proposals
are extended for radical 5-10 year recovery plans combined
with financial support for a sustainable fishing industry
- then the long-term forecast remains bleak for fish and coastal
communities dependent on fishing. WWF repeated the glaring
statistic that two-thirds of all commercial fish stocks in
the Northeast Atlantic are currently outside safe biological
Negotiators threw out an early Commission
plan proposing large mesh sizes widely criticised as unworkable
and have accepted a plan pressed for by both the fishing
industry and WWF to close spawning and nursery grounds during
the cod breeding season.
"These closures are a step forward but
are strictly emergency relief. The important lesson from the
crisis is that industry, governments and scientists can work
together when pushed. What is needed now is to transform such
crisis management into strategic, positive management to regenerate
and enhance fish stocks across the board to cover all commercial
species," said Dr Sarah Jones, WWF Marine and Fisheries
Other measures proposed by WWF:
Investment in a sustainable industry
A recent WWF report Choose or Lose
has highlighted the great potential for the fishing industry
to have a sustainable future. What is vital is that support
and resources must be made available to the industry to allow
for fair and reasonable restructuring, and reinvestment, as
WWFs report made the opportunity and
need for sound investment clear:
- Published research shows that in some areas fisheries
could be over 1,500 per cent more profitable if fish stocks
are allowed to recover.
- Official figures show the UK fishing industry to be worth
£622 million in 1997, with many more jobs on land in the
supporting and processing industries.
- It is estimated that every job at sea supports four jobs
on land therefore potentially over 40,000 jobs could
be at risk in Scotland alone.
Go to www.wwf-uk.org/orca/info.htm
for a copy of the report.
New structures needed
WWF and UK fishermen are pressing for restructuring
of the Common Fisheries Policy to enable sustainable management
using a range of tools, with fishermen involved in the decision-making
process. It is critical to the success of the recovery plan
that the fishermen themselves are involved in its development
and are able to support its proposals. Recovery measures must
include targets and forward plans over the next five or ten
years as stocks recover. It is only with this more long-term
view that the required management changes considered today,
will allow medium-term recovery and a long-term sustainable
future for the fish and fishermen.