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Sarkozy promises French fleets he will loosen EU fishing curbs - Independent Online Edition > Europe

President Nicolas Sarkozy has blown up a storm in the troubled waters of European fishing policy by promising to push for the abolition - or weakening - of national catch limits, or quotas.

In comments to French trawlermen in Boulogne-sur-Mer, M. Sarkozy said it was time to "get out of" the quota system which has ruled EU fisheries policy since it was created 25 years ago. He suggested that France would grab the "opportunity" to change the system when it takes over the presidency of the European Union in the second half of this year.

M.Sarkozy's comments - dismissed by opposition politicians and some French newspapers as "demagoguery" - were heavily modified yesterday by his Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Michel Barnier. He said that France did not want to scrap national catch quotas but to "improve" them by fixing the limits for several years, instead of 12 months.

EU officials and British fishermen's leaders complained yesterday that M. Sarkozy's comments were "crowd-pleasing" rather than helpful. They said that EU quotas, although often criticised, were essential for the management of threatened fish stocks and to organise a fair division of catches between national fishing fleets.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:19:15 PM EST
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