Scientists call for major North Sea fishing ban

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A group of scientists are calling for fishing bans in parts of the North Sea in an open letter to Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and Environment and State Secretary Martijn van Rijn of Economic Affairs, newspaper Trouw reports.

The letter is signed by, among others, Han Lindeboom, professor of marine ecology at Wageningen University and director of research institute Imares.

The scientists believe that the only way wildlife will recover in certain areas of the North Sea, is if fishing is completely stopped in those areas. "If these areas are not completely closed to all forms of fishing, it can not be expected that the ecological values will really recover", the scientists write. Limiting the amount of fishing will not be enough.

They want fishing bans in the Frisian Front and the adjacent nature reserve Central Oyster Grounds. Together these two areas cover about a 10th of the Dutch Continental Shelf.

Minister Schulz van Haegen told the scientists that their demands will be taken into account when the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, debates the Natura 2000 on Wednesday. The Natura 2000 is a European network of protected nature areas. Later this year the Netherlands has to make proposals in Brussels on how to better protect ecosystems in the North Sea.

Interest group for sea fishing Visned thinks the scientists recommendations are "greatly exaggerated".

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