18 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman has raised strong objections to EU proposals aimed at reducing fishing quotas. He claims that the Dutch fishing industry will be too hard hit by the planned cuts.
He was responding to a proposal from European Commissioner Franz Fischler, who called for a 40 percent reduction in plaice and sole. The agriculture commissioner is taking the hard steps to protect various endangered fish species.
But Veerman said the reductions were unacceptable. The Dutch fishing industry largely depends on the two species and catches 80 percent of the EU sole quota, an NOS news report said.
European agriculture and fishing ministers were meeting in Brussels on Wednesday in annual and difficult talks on a tricky sharing of fishing quotas among EU member states. An accord was not expected before Friday, Radio Netherlands said.
Veerman said the proposed 40 percent reduction in plaice and sole quotas is “out of reach and unacceptable”. He said the social-economic situation in fishing communities such as Urk, Den Helder and IJmuiden would be hard hit by such a move.
As an alternative, the Dutch minister proposed a multiple-year quota, which will give the fishing industry more flexibility.
The EU was recently confronted with a warning from Ices (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea), which called in October for a cut in fishing quotas and the amount of time boats can spend at sea.
Ices — which co-ordinates and promotes scientific investigation in the North Atlantic — raised concern about cod, whiting and southern hake and claimed that plaice are also close to historically low levels. North Sea haddock stocks are booming and north east Atlantic mackerel are also in good shape, BBC reported.
But fishermen claim scientists are being overly pessimistic and that they are still catching plenty of fish. On the other hand, scientists raised concerns of “hyper-aggregation” — the tendency of a hunted population to crowd together for safety.
Such a phenomenon was reported before Canada’s Grand Banks fisheries collapsed in 1992.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news