Ninety per cent of fish in the waters around Britain will have disappeared within 20 years unless they are given protection, a leading marine researcher told scientists yesterday.
Professor Callum Roberts claims that “the endgame” was being played out with the remaining fish in the seas and that they are doomed without radical measures to save them. The number of fish in seas and oceans around the world was a fraction of what it had been 50 years ago, and numbers were still plummeting.
He told the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference in York that fishing quotas needed to be scrapped and extensive no-fishing zones put in place. He also said that fishing should be halted or strictly limited in a third of Britain’s seas to give stocks time to recover.
Fishing ministers, who are said to have disregarded scientific advice on sustainable fishing levels over the past two decades, should be stripped of their powers to rule on how many tonnes can be safely caught, he continued. They would be replaced by a science-led body that is independent of electoral pressures.
There will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a major scientific study.
Stocks have collapsed in nearly one-third of sea fisheries, and the rate of decline is accelerating.
Writing in the journal Science, the international team of researchers says fishery decline is closely tied to a broader loss of marine biodiversity.
But a greater use of protected areas could safeguard existing stocks.
A COMPLETE ban on cod fishing is the only way to prevent the species from dying out in the North Sea, scientists said last night.
The much-trumpeted European rescue plan for cod is failing, the official committee of European fisheries experts will tell governments on Friday.
Stocks of cod — Britain’s favourite fish — are still so depleted in the seas around the UK that there should be a complete ban on catching the fish throughout next year.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) will also give warning that fishing of other species of fish, including haddock and plaice, will have to be severely curtailed if cod is to be protected.