Failed fishing policies prompt more illegal catches
7th August 2003
HALF of the cod caught by Scottish fishermen in the North Sea is being landed illegally, according to a leaked report from the Prime Minister’s strategy unit.
The fishing industry is accused of ignoring the strict limits set by the government even though the cod stock is in grave danger of being eroded.
But in a damning verdict on Whitehall policy, the strategy unit policy officials have conceded that the government’s "fisheries policy does not presently meet the criteria of good government".
In what will be hailed as a victory by the "cod crusaders" - a pressure group of Scots fishermen - the report agrees that the quota system is imprecise, anachronistic and has failed to adapt to the fast-changing North Sea situation.
As a result, the report says, the fishing industry has lost faith in Whitehall - making fishermen far more likely to make "black" landings of cod in an act of defiance.
"Compliance [with regulations] is poor," it says. Figures from the International Council for the Exploration of Cod estimated that "cod removals in the North Sea were double the reported landings."
More ominously, it said that the amount of financial support from the government is "high in relation to the value of the landings" - suggesting that a cut may be imminent.