Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Fishy Goings On

You would have had to have had your head in the sand to not know how unpopular EU Common Fisheries Policy has been over the years. Well tomorrow in Brussels I will be tackling the Commission on the latest potential amendment to policy, which drags the every day hobby fisherman into the battle of the quotas. I'm backing Nigel's appeal to Commissioner Damanaki for sensitivity to Britain in the reworking of Article 47 Common Fisheries Policy which seeks to include recreational sea angling in the regulation and control of sea fishing.

I thought the whole point of quotas was to prevent diminishing stocks? European fisheries policy has been so unsuccessful in achieving sustainability, that 91% of fisheries are on course to be classified as "overfished" by 2015.

But the problem is how waters are being fished, not by whom. Indiscriminate trawling or long line fishing dredge our seas of marine life. But throwing dead fish that have already been caught and are good for the table back into the sea is surely the opposite of sustainability?

What is sustainable fishing however is recreational sea angling, enjoyed by around a million people in the UK and supporting as business thought to be worth around 2bn euros alone in tackle trade across the continent. Some 19000 people are employed in some 1300 businesses in England and Wales a result of the recreational angling industry [DEFRA Figs]

Recreational sea anglers catch and remove from the sea only what they intend to eat, leaving small young fish to develop and breed and throwing back what they do not strictly need. In some cases, they tag the fish first, contributing to conservation programmes. If the European Commission gets its way, they will be forced to land everything they catch, and count their quota against the national one. Recreational Sea Angling supports ecologically sound self sufficiency that, if practiced by more people, would lessen the demand that currently fuels the indiscriminate commercial fishing putting whole species of marine life under threat.

Common Fisheries Policy has always been prejudiced against the British fleet who are permitted to currently fish only 7% of the Channel cod quota and are permitted to fish only one fifth of the quota in our own territorial waters. Perhaps the Commissioner will see fit to favour the needs of harmless recreational fishermen in the UK in the same way as her predecessor showed open sensitivity to the needs of his own country’s fishermen when he opposed the ban on the sale of bluefin tuna, an industry that earns €100 million a year for his country Malta.

It pains me so much to go into the supermarket and see nothing for sale but foreign fish or farmed fish. It is staggering when you think that we live on an island, yet our fish is flown in from the other side of the world.

And now a past time that entertains some one million Brits is under threat for the sake of regulating everything. It is typical of the EU to regard unregulation as synonymous with "illegal".

But the EU's passion to destroy the fishing industry doesn't just stop with the 27 member states. The EU has been over fishing in West Africa, as part of its "Economic Partnership Agreements" for years. EU fishing vessels have sucked the oceans dry, leaving no big fish for the local fishermen to sell. The result is poverty and desperation, further fueling political instability in these countries and leaving illegal trades such as piracy the only option for out of work fishermen.

The fishing industry has dramatically suffered across the world. Above are pictures of the Chinese Fishing Nets in the Southern Indian State of Kerala, which despite being a huge tourist attraction, are failing to bring in the necessary stocks as the coastlines of the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean still suffer the incredible damage caused by the 2006 Boxing Day Tsunami.

But what we are about to face in Europe is no man made disaster. It is the single handed destruction of an entire industry by erroneous EU policy.

1 comment:

  1. You should try and find a BBC programme by Alex Riley on Fishing, although it was interesting to see the impact of this upon the fishing industry. As soon as it came out it looked like the lobbyists were really upset with his findings. Surprising that. I especially welcome your efforts as there has been a real effect upon the scallops in Cardigan Bay being over-fished.