Julie Girling, Conservative British MEP (though she, in true EU fashion describes herself as "a British MEP and a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists group", the European Parliament labouring mightily to abolish national parties) has written about the proposed fisheries reforms in Public Service Europe, a "website [that] aims to be the online knowledge hub for those wanting the inside track on European politics, public administration, management issues and key developments in the business world".
Ms Girling asks
New plans to reform Europe's Common Fisheries Policy created a wave of discussion, but will they actually produce any changes worth waiting for?
The answer is no, but Ms Girling cannot admit that completely as she is committed to the idea of a common fisheries policy, though she thinks that within it various reforms can be introduced that would allow for different local conditions, the fishing of different species and the incentivising [sic] of fishermen.
My Don't Ditch the Fish campaign aims to approach the issue of discards by incentivising fishermen. It strives to halt the process of micro-decision making in Brussels and return control of fishing policy to smaller regions based on fishing basins.
Fishermen will be allocated an annual credit allowance. Credits can be bought and sold between fishermen but only within a specific sea basin. Fisherman can catch whatever they like as long as they do not exceed their annual credits allowance. Everything caught would have to be landed and recorded – including most by catch species.
This system will ensure fishermen do not need to discard fish or worry about exceeding their quota as vulnerable fish – including those in recovery programmes, like North Sea cod – will have a higher credits rating than resilient fish from healthy stocks, such as North Sea mackerel. So fishermen will be incentivised to target mackerel and avoid cod to maintain a healthy credits balance. The values of credits can be periodically reset in response to local and scientific data.
Can this really be done within the parameters of the Common Fisheries Policy, particularly when it reverts to its true conditions of equal access? It seems to us very unlikely. So why is Ms Girling wasting her own and everybody else's time?