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.
The military’s ability to fight global terrorism is being hampered by an exodus of officers from the Intelligence Corps, with 20 per cent departing in the past three years, defence sources have disclosed.
The use of a key weapon in fighting the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents, as well as Islamic terrorists, has been undermined by more than 100 officers being lured into highly paid private security jobs or becoming disillusioned at the way intelligence is handled, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.
Senior officers are also deeply concerned that the fall in numbers has resulted in people being posted to jobs above their rank, for which they do not have the experience or training.
“The corps now has to operate with people they would not normally fit into a post,” a defence source said. “Majors are being put into a lieutenant colonel’s job they are not up to right now.
THE head of the British army has warned that the country has almost run out of troops to defend itself or fight abroad, a leaked document has revealed.
General Sir Richard Dannatt has told senior commanders that reinforcements are “now almost non-existent”.
In the memorandum to fellow defence leaders, he said: “We have almost no capability to react to the unexpected”.
The “undermanned” army has almost all its units committed to training for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, on operations or on leave.
Just one battalion of 500 troops is available for an emergency, such as a domestic terrorist attack.
Military leaders have privately suggested that a defence review is essential to examine if more money, equipment and troops are needed.
With Britain’s military reserve virtually empty, pressure will mount on US President George Bush to review US troop levels in Iraq, after fellow Republicans suggested significant withdrawals. More forces are also needed in Afghanistan.
The RAF urgently needs new transport aircraft because its ageing fleet is struggling to cope with the pace of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, an influential committee of MPs warned today.
The Commons defence committee said there were “real doubts” that the elderly Hercules transports, TriStars and VC10s – some 40 years old – could last out until replacements became available early in the next decade.
It said the Ministry of Defence should urgently consider ordering more of the new generation of A400Ms, produced by the Airbus consortium, and giant Boeing C17s to ensure it could rapidly move troops and equipment to trouble spots around the world. The MPs called for an assurance that all the A400Ms would be fitted with electronic defensive aid systems to protect against missile attacks, and fuel tank inertion systems to protect against fire.
Ten servicemen were killed in 2005 – the biggest single UK loss of life in Iraq – when an RAF Hercules was shot down. It is thought the crash occurred when vapour inside a fuel tank in the Hercules’s wings exploded after being hit by enemy ground fire.
Most of the RAF’s Hercules fleet is not fitted with special foam to prevent such explosions.
One in five police officers is unavailable for operational duties, research claims.
A poll of senior officers who run “basic command units” across England and Wales found that on average 5% of officers are sick, 5% are seconded to headquarters, 5% are on training and 4% of posts are vacant.
In total, 19% of the workforce is unavailable for operational duties at any one time, the poll by think-tank Policy Exchange said. Government targets have served to increase bureaucracy and stifle innovation, the survey added.
Policy Exchange polled all 228 superintendents who run basic command units, with a 68% response rate.
In all, 71% of superintendents believed the Home Office’s reporting requirements had a negative impact on the quality of policing in their area. And 85% of superintendents regarded the number of officers unavailable for operational duties as a problem.