As you know I emailed our local MEP’s to urge them to vote for the reforms to the EU Common Fisheries Policy and I thought I’d share a couple of replies with you.
The first is from the local Conservative MEP, Robert Sturdy:
Dear Dr Holding,
Thank you for contacting me about this important issue. We are in the midst of CFP reform negotiations in the Parliament and have a real opportunity here to ensure that we get the radical reform that we have campaigned so hard for. The Fisheries Committee has already voted on the package and the plenary vote will be February 6th. This will finalise the Parliament’s position on the CFP.
As you know, there are many issues at stake, including regenerating the ever depleting fish stocks. Two thirds of EU commercial fisheries are over-fished. Discards play a big part in this over-exploitation and the Conservatives voted in favour of an end to discards and an implementation of the discard ban. However, we must ensure that this discard ban is workable and does not end up with us moving from discarding at sea simply to discarding on land. Instead of finding new markets for the extra 1.8 million tonnes of unwanted catches, we should firstly aim to use more selective gears to keep these fish in the ocean. The discard ban should therefore go hand in hand with a tougher approach on selective gear to ensure that the unwanted catches are not caught in the first place.
The Conservative delegation also voted in favour of maintaining stocks above maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2020. This will ensure that all fish stocks will have recovered to sustainable levels and fishermen will have had the necessary time to adjust to the new approach. We must work with scientists and stakeholders to come up with workable legislation that conserves fish stocks for future generations and which provides for a sustainable fishing sector. MSY will be an important factor in this scenario.
We are also fully supportive of fisheries management plans that involve all stakeholders and are based on a regional basis. We would like to see an end to the micro-management from Brussels that has bedevilled the sector for decades. Regionalisation therefore lies at the core of the CFP reform package.
My colleague, Struan Stevenson, is the rapporteur on one of the main legislative CFP reports, the Common Market Organisation and as such, he is responsible for steering this through the Parliament. The reforms contained in his report devolve day-to-day management responsibility of fisheries, introduce better labelling on fisheries products for consumers and provide a strengthened role for Producer Organisations. We received almost unanimous support at both the committee and plenary vote and are about to embark on negotiations with the EU Council and the European Commission at the end of February.
Please be assured that I fully support ambitious and radical reform to ensure both a sustainable ocean and a sustainable industry.
Robert Sturdy MEP
I was pleased with the tone and the content of this reply as Mr Sturdy details the Conservative stance with regard to not just discard and overfishing, but technical solutions to minimise the wrong catch in the first place. Just goes to show, common sense can also inform political debate. Who’d have thought!
The second is from the representative of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) MEP Stuart Agnew:
Thank you for your recent email, addressed to Stuart Agnew MEP. I am replying on his behalf.
Mr Agnew takes a serious interest in fisheries matters and has recently become a member of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee. He takes note of your views and he will be closely studying this package.
The Common Fisheries Policy has been a disaster. British fishing waters represent two thirds of the EU’s fishing grounds and were simply given away as part of the terms of our membership of the then Common Market by Edward Heath. They were designated a ‘common resource’ to which the other member states have access, even those that are landlocked!
Political Advisor to Stuart Agnew MEP
Office of Stuart Agnew MEP
UK Independence Party
145 New London Road
It appears that Mr Agnews ‘serious interest in fishing matters’ has rendered him so focussed that he completely forgot to address my point. Obviously he’s a very serious politician indeed.
Mr Gulleford completely ignored my point too, but took the opportunity to indulge himself with a little anti-European tub-thumping. You’ll notice his indignation that even land locked countries are allowed to fish in what he considers to be British waters (and I’m not sure where his assertion that British waters constitute two thirds of all EU fishing grounds originates from. Perhaps in his world Britain still has an empire and we own the North Atlantic). I wonder if he is similarly indignant about people who live in flat countries, such as Holland, being allowed to go to mountainous countries to go skiing. (May be he spends his winters at the foot of Ben Nevis with a placard with the exhortation ‘Dutchies go home – British mountains for British skiers!’ )