Expatica news

WWF cries ‘scandal’ over French plans for fish quotas

   BRUSSELS, January 20, 2008  – Global conservation group WWF described as a
"scandal" Sunday suggestions by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that EU
fishing quotas be eased, saying the limits must if anything be toughened.
   "If Mr Sarkozy’s idea is to soften the system to increase fishing
opportunities, that’s a scandal," Charles Braine, WWF’s fisheries specialist,
told AFP.
   Faced with complaints about quotas and the high price of diesel, Sarkozy
told some 300 fishermen Saturday that he would tackle the issue when his
country takes over the European Union’s rotating presidency in July.
   "At the moment, when all the world is saying the resource (fish) is
returning, there must be a more flexible response on quotas, whatever the
species and locations where they’re being caught," he said.
   But Braine said: "It’s quite populist" and "doesn’t make sense", and he
added that the EU should try to put in place a system that better protects
fish stocks.
   "The fact is, the EU’s policy of quotas has failed. It has not passed the
test because fish stocks are still low," he said. "Quotas handed out to
different countries are systematically over-shot, leading to illegal fishing.
   The European Commission adopts fishing quotas for the 27 nation EU in
December each year, with the aim of ensuring that stocks can be sustained,
based on scientific advice.
   The 2008 quotas have been widely condemned by the French fishing industry,
not least for demanding a 44 percent cut in the national herring and whiting
catches, and 56 percent for mackerel.
   Polish fishermen, too, have complained about cuts in quotas for Baltic cod.
   The Commission’s fisheries spokeswoman, Mireille Thom, said that Brussels
welcomes "favourably all contributions to the debate on common fishing policy
aimed at improving the management of fisheries in the EU".
   She declined to comment further without more specific details about
Sarkozy’s intentions.