- Over-fishing in the north Atlantic is seriously damaging
fish stocks, which are being "mined" at over twice the
rate, say conservationists.
- Fishing vessels currently catch stocks of blue whiting
to feed farmed salmon.
- The North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which fixed
the last quota for blue whiting at 650,000 tonnes, says fishermen caught
2.3m t in 2003.
- Stocks of the fish will cease to be sustainable if
practices continue, says conservation body WWF.
- Blue whiting, a deep sea relative of cod, tend to be
caught in international waters, from north Africa to the Barents
- Urgent need
- The majority of fish caught are used as fishmeal, with
a small number being caught for human consumption.
- A precautionary fishing quota of 650,000 tonnes was set
in 1994, but the system broke down in 2000.
- Since then a diplomatic dispute between the EU, Norway
and Iceland has prevented a new limit being set.
- In the absence of a regulatory system, the number of
blue whiting caught in a year swelled to over two million in 2003,
to figures from the commission.
- Experts say current practices will cause the stock to
become unsustainable as there will soon be too few fish left for fisherman
- Kjartan Hoydal, secretary of the East Atlantic Fisheries
Commission, told BBC News Online: "A quota needs to be agreed so that
the current system comes to an end.
- "Stocks are being reduced at such a rate that it
will soon cease to be commercially viable to try to catch the
- Slow growth
- And WWF - formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund -
is calling for the sale of blue whiting as fishmeal to stop.
- Louise Heaps, of WWF, said: "At the moment stocks
are being 'mined' in a way that is tantamount to a free-for-all and it
is having a significant impact.
- "We feel very strongly that blue whiting should
not be used as fish food at all until it is properly managed."
- The countries involved in the diplomatic row will meet
in Brussels in July in a bid to establish a quota. Current practices have
also been condemned by Greenpeace.
- A spokesman for the conservation group said:
and unsustainable fishing represents the greatest threat to our ocean
- "Deep sea ecosystems are particularly vulnerable
because they are often made up of slow-growing species which cannot
commercial fishing pressure."
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