, November 24, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Wildlife conservationists are criticizing a recent decision by the European Union to ignore scientific advice and continue to allow fishing for orange roughy and blue ling in the North Atlantic. They charge that the precautionary principle is being applied selectively.]

The EU's [European Union's] decision to allow continued fishing of deepwater stocks has been slammed by WWF [World Wildlife Fund], who claim that the move undermines efforts to ensure sustainability with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Under the new proposals, species including orange roughy and blue ling have had quotas set, in spite of scientific advice to close their fisheries completely.

The decision also comes after the EU backed the closure of the orange roughy fishery in international waters at the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) meeting last week.

"The EU seems to have a double standard for deep sea fisheries in its waters and outside -- this is not coherent," commented Paul King, WWF's Director of Campaigns. "The precautionary principle should not be applicable wherever convenient but to all deep sea fisheries."

The UK, along with Sweden, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Estonia, expressed their opposition to weakening the original proposals -- a move that was welcomed by the conservation group.

"While the outcome is not good news for deepwater stocks, the stance of the blocking minority countries is to be congratulated in facing up to those Member State who were keen to see even weaker proposals go through," added Helen McLachlan, WWF Fisheries Officer. "Perhaps the tide is turning as people acknowledge the parlous state our seas are in and the action that is required to turn them around."