Brussels, 21st December 2006. EU fisheries ministers today continued their annual Christmas tradition of ignoring scientific advice, authorising continued over-fishing, and condemning fish stocks and fishers to a bleak future.

Brussels, 21st December 2006. EU fisheries ministers today continued their annual Christmas tradition of ignoring scientific advice, authorising continued over-fishing, and condemning fish stocks and fishers to a bleak future.

The advice was to stop the catching of cod*; ministers instead agreed cuts of 10-20% compared with 2006.

In a grim repeat of a cycle now well established in fisheries policy decision making, scientific advice provided to the European Commission was watered down in the Commission’s advice to the Council, with the Council then watering it down again to agree fishing opportunities that bear little or no resemblance to the original scientific advice.

The Commission’s excuse is that the scientific advice is not politically acceptable; the ministers claim to be acting in support of their fishing communities. Of course if they were really acting in the long-term interests of their fishing communities rather than their own short-term political interests they would make the cuts that would allow stocks to recover and provide a healthy future resource base for the industry. Fishers have nothing to thank ministers for; their weak short-termism guarantees that the industry will stumble from one crisis to another. Only healthy stocks can ensure a healthy future for the industry.

* The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), the body responsible for providing fisheries managers with scientific advice, has advised a zero TAC for 2007 for cod in the Kattegat, Irish Sea, North Sea, Eastern Channel, Skagerrak, and West of Scotland.

Council of Ministers press release (21/12/06).

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