Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pity the poor readers

Pity the poor innocent readers who, today, pick up copies of The Times and catch the story headed: "The end of cod".

Written by Anthony Browne, described as the paper's chief political correspondent, and Lewis Smith who gets the lowly title, "environment reporter", the strap informs us that, "Scientists demand ban on North Sea cod fishing" and that, "Years of tougher quotas have failed to revive stocks".

The story is garbage.

Its thrust is that people described by the paper as "scientists" are saying that a complete ban on cod fishing is the only way to prevent the species from dying out in the North Sea.

These are from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), a highly partisan group of official scientists who represent the orthodoxy of fishing science. They are telling us that the "much-trumpeted European rescue plan for cod" (devised by them – although we are not told this) is failing.

We always knew the plan would fail – it never had a hope in hell of success and the only commercial fisheries which have successful managed their stocks are those which have ignored ICES advice.

Nevertheless, always willing to reinforce failure with, er… more failure, ICES are now calling for a complete ban on cod exploitation AND – in the height of moronic fatuity – are telling EU member state governments that other species, such as haddock and plaice, will have to be severely curtailed if cod is to be protected.

This comes from Gerd Hubold, the general-secretary of ICES, who has told the uncritical Times that the main problem is that although cod catches have been cut to 26,500 tonnes a year, more than twice that amount is being caught in bycatches by fishermen chasing other species such as haddock, whiting, hake and plaice.

Fishermen, we are told, "accidentally" caught about 50,000 tonnes of cod last year, and have to throw the dead fish back in the sea because it is classed as an illegal catch.

This of course is a direct function of the mad quota system devised by the EU and supported by ICES but then we have Mr Anthony Browne, chief political correspondent, telling us that "the bycatches are difficult to avoid because cod are bigger than the other fish and no method has been devised to catch the other fish without scooping up cod in the process."

It is difficult to deal with this. Said as neutrally as possible, we can only say that this is not true. In fact, it is a total, absolute lie. And so is the following from The Times:

However, Mireille Thom, the European Commission spokeswoman for fisheries, said: "If we want to avoid all catches of cod, all these fisheries will have to be stopped. We have not discovered the fishing gear that can catch haddock or whiting but not cod. It is not for lack of trying — it is a very tough assignment."
What does the commission think it is playing at? More to the point, what does the The Times think it is doing publishing these lies? At a time when haddock have never been so plentiful, there are well-established, highly effective and totally reliable ways of fishing for these species without touching the cod (such as illustrated here, using nets with separator panels). And, by banning the so-called discards, implementing a regime where everything that is caught is landed, it is very easy to ensure that cod are protected, simply by setting limits on allowable bycatch.

But such measures are beyond the wit of the EU, which then spouts lies to the likes of The Times, from which it gains aid and comfort as their gullible hacks print the garbage they are told.

Then, to add insult to injury, the paper finishes up its report by citing a spokeswoman for the Marine Stewardship Council, "which encourages sustainable fisheries", saying that the ICES warning should be heeded: "It's the best scientific advice people can get."

As we wrote though, pity the poor readers. How are they supposed to know this is the garbage it is? Perhaps Mr Montgomerie might do a piece on it tonight?

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