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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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Thursday 21:00-21:30
Costing the Earth tells stories which touch all our lives, looking at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts. It questions accepted truths, challenges the people in charge and reports on progress towards improving the world we live in.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 13th September 
PRESENTER
MIRIAM O'REILLY
Miriam O'Reilly
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Thursday 13th September  2007
Miriam O Reilly with Johann Sigurjonsson
Miriam O' Reilly meets scientific advisor Johann Sigurjonsson at Reykjavik harbour.

Plenty more fish in the sea?

Just what is needed for the fish in UK waters to recover? After harsh cuts in fishing allowances, the fleet and changes in gear over the last 20 years many species still struggle in their numbers. According to scientists more than half UK fish stocks are at precautionary levels and cod numbers in particular are still unhealthy.
Miriam O' Reilly explores whether the politics has worked against the advice and measures already taken.

She travels to Iceland - long heralded as a good example of sustainable fishing. It exports more than £250 million of marine products to the UK each year and supplies a large proportion of our fish. The country depends on the industry more than any other state in the world. Perhaps this is why, from the start of September, it's slashed cod quotas by 30%. The controversial move is based on scientific advice from Iceland's Marine Research Institute that, while current levels are good, a low spawning stock may reduce future numbers. So why doesn't the UK or Europe respond the same way to its scientists? Former fisheries minister Elliot Morley explains about the political wranglings and pressures over quota. But has such negotiation to raise the allowed catch undermined the efforts made by reducing the fleet over the years?

Miriam also hears how the limits on quota have actually resulted in thousands of tonnes of cod being caught and thrown back into the sea dead every year. This includes large edible cod as well as young fish which would otherwise mature and breed. In some of the UK's waters almost two-thirds of the number of fish landed are caught and discarded. So how is this happening? 

Scientists say the fleet needs to be reduced further to reduce such shocking waste but fishermen say there are many alternatives, including the consumer becoming more adventurous in their taste. So will the anticipated price increase of a further 20% over the next year move us to be more adventurous or will our love affair with cod remain constant - whatever happens?

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