Fishermen of Scotland take lead in protecting cod stocks
VAST areas of Scotland's fishing grounds are to be closed to the country's trawlers in a groundbreaking voluntary scheme to protect cod stocks, it was revealed yesterday.
The three-month pilot scheme will involve 225-square-mile blocks of the North Sea and west coast waters being declared off-limits whenever there are signs that too many small and juvenile cod are being caught in a particular area.
The vast majority of Scottish white-fish skippers have given their backing to the voluntary initiative - the first of its kind to be operated in European Union waters.
It is hoped that the scheme could be introduced on a mandatory basis across EU waters, with the backing of regulatory punishments for skippers who flout the real-time closure restrictions.
Mike Park, executive chairman of the Scottish Whitefish Producers' Association, said the Scottish white-fish fleet planned to implement the code from September.
He said: "This pilot project is seen by our members as one of a number of measures to achieve a balanced equation between stock regeneration and economic opportunity."
During the scheme, observers from the Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen and the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency will carry out checks on the level of catches of juvenile cod.
In areas where three boats within the space of 48-hours record landings above a certain level, a "no fish zone" will be immediately declared for a maximum of 21 days.
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