Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Do they know something we don't?

This report by the National Federation of Fishermen's Organization about the first round of negotiations between the EU and Norway about fisheries appeared in the November 21 issue of Fishing News.

Subsequently there was another analysis, also, one must presume, by someone from the NFFO. The last sentence reads:

But it was possible to see underneath those inevitable elements in any negotiations that these are sovereign countries engaged, as partners, in managing joint stocks in sometimes difficult circumstances of a biological, scientific, economic and political nature.

Naturally, one hopes that the Norwegians will take one look at the biological, scientific, economic and political mess that is the Common Fisheries Policy and bear that in mind as they negotiate.

However, what is interesting is the reference to "sovereign countries". Norway is, indeed, a sovereign country, not least because it has wisely stayed out of the EU; but since when has the European Union been a sovereign country? That is not what our politicians tell us.

Friday, 25 November 2011

From FAL's Autumn/Winter 2011 Newsletter

This is to be found on page 10 of the Newsletter:

Extracts from Presentations by Chairman and Honorary Chairman to Richard Lochhead 26 October 2011

Sandy Patience, Chairman

All political parties agree and admit that the CFP has been a disaster for the conservation of fish stocks and the communities which depend on their livelihoods.

When are you and your officials ever going to realise that the CFP has nothing whatever to do with conservation but all to do with the principle of equal access to the common resource?

Get rid of the UK fleet to the advantage of other member States.

The magnitude of further proposed cuts in TACs will jeopardize many businesses especially those of the west of Scotland. FAL has been subjected to all kinds of accusations over the years bordering on questioning the sanity of our views. But as we rightly predicted many years ago the fleet is being slowly but surely reduced. Is it too much to ask for an apology not only from the Scottish Government but the UK

Government and those fishing industry bodies that actively supported policies that have led to the demise of so many family businesses? He who soweth the wind, reapeth the whirlwind.

It is fair to say that all of us who have told the truth all these years about the CFP have been accused of all sorts of unpleasant things, including lunacy. Even now, as all sorts of celebrities talk ignorantly about what they see as the main problem, discards (not that is not a problem but it is the effect not the cause) the reality of the situation seems to be beyond the average politician and political commentator.

Tom Hay, Honorary Chairman

No aspect of the United Kingdom’s suicidal involvement with the European Union is more flagrant than the downright treachery, lies and distortions from the truth, which has brought about the deliberate and almost total destruction of the British White Fish fleet.

The Fishing Debates recorded in Hansard in 1972, and the subsequent revelations within the Public Record Office after the end of the 30 year secrecy rule, make it absolutely clear that the CFP has nothing whatever to do with conservation, but would have catastrophic consequences for British fishermen when the derogations terminate.

And yet successive Fisheries Ministers have been going to Brussels for years, and have been subjected to a dreamed up delusion that the system introduced in 1983 of National Quotas and all their attachments, is the Common Fisheries Policy, they have been forced to negotiate with the Commission supposedly for the benefit of our fishermen on the basis of that pernicious lie.

Cod recovery plans, Conservation credit schemes, Real time closures, on board observers, on board cameras, never ending reductions in fishing effort and quota are all allegedly intended to protect our marine environment, and conserve our fish stocks.

In reality the calculated well planned intention behind all this, is to regulate the Scottish and British fishing industries out of existence altogether. This whole programme is cleverly pre-arranged to distract our fishermen away from the actual, secretive, well concealed demands of the EU treaties, that they have to be driven out of their own fishing grounds, to make way for the fishermen of the other member states on the principle of non-discrimination, and without increasing fishing effort.

Richard, to allow this vital renewable National asset to remain within the control of an un-elected foreign power in Brussels, is a crime against the British people, and an undeniable violation of their legitimate constitutional rights. Surely no MP, or MSP who says he is determined to put Scotland’s interests first would allow such a serious scenario to continue. But not even to mention to the Scottish people that such a critical situation exists is beyond the bounds of credibility.

There is only one way of escape, and we need your help to get it Richard. We must be disentangled from the shackles of this horrendous Common Fisheries Policy, so that we can regain control of our potentially rich fishing grounds which are rightfully ours according to international law. There is not one moment to lose. Let us direct all our energies towards it, so that we may find it before it is finally too late.

It might be that it is already too late but it certainly will be if we do not face up to the truth of what the CFP is all about and what will happen when the real CFP is in place.

Monday, 21 November 2011

When will they ever learn? - Part 1

The following article appeared in the Aberdeen Press and Journal about a debate in the House of Commons about there will be a report just as soon as we manage to get through the turgid and irrelevant speeches. Frank Doran, Labour MP for Aberdeen North, who initiated the debate and who is clearly very pleased with himself about it, has to our certain knowledge, been told the truth about the Common Fisheries Policy by FAL on numerous occasions. He has never listened and, probably, never will. As a consequence he has no idea about the structure of the European Union and where the CFP might fit in.

All talk about the British Minister going to Brussels and bringing about "radical reform" whether he is backed by the Parliament or not, is moonshine. A radical overhaul of the policy, now that it has been written into the treaty, thanks to those who negotiated the Maastricht Treaty, would require unanimity among all the member states. Other, lesser reforms would come under the Qualified Majority Voting rule that has now become so complicated as to be incomprehensible to anyone who is not actually an employee of the European Commission (and even then, one wonders).

The British government is in no position to reform the Common Fisheries Policy. It is an EU policy; it is a political construct that has no economic validation and will be decided along political lines; it is, let us face it, part of the integration process that has been the prime purpose of the European project. And, of course, the notion of devolving to regions is part of that process in that it cuts across national interests. Mr Doran is clearly unaware of this problem.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Commissioner speaks

Maria Damanaki European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries presented her views on that famed reform at a European Policy Centre Event in Brussels that was held under the catchy title: “Fishy business -Time to reform EU fisheries policy?”. Funny, no?

There is a reasonably accurate assessment of the present situation except for one thing: there is no mention of the fact that the CFP, which is responsible for the dire state of affairs outlined in the speech, is a political construct and decisions are taken by ALL the EU members under QMV, whether they have any interest in the subject or not.

Please pay attention to the plan to regionalize the industry; the aim is undoubtedly to destroy any idea of national fishing industries, even if the national authorities and fishing organizations are required to give their support for the plans that will, somehow, bring about sustainability and many other good things, not detailed in the speech. But they will, eventually, be very good things and the discards will be stopped.
Via regionalization industry, stakeholder and Member States can set all the necessary measures to avoid catching unwanted fish in the first place. With my proposal what is hauled up in the nets has to be landed. If it is undersized fish then it goes into fishmeal production. If it is oversize fish then the fishermen can sell it for human consumption and they will keep the profits from this sale.

With the ban over time we put less pressure on the stocks and the fish will become bigger and fetch better market prices bringing more profits to fishermen.

This will also help us to achieve social sustainability.

Maybe some among you are now thinking: “What are we going to do in the meantime until we reach this social sustainability?”

Let me outline to you how I want to finance the transition. With the two instruments of the Market Organisation and the new Maritime and Fisheries Funds I will support innovation, sustainability and smart growth in coastal areas.

Fishermen should receive storage aid to implement the discard ban. They should also get financial support for participating in trials on more selective gears and for collecting data. I will financially support training and professional qualifications.

I will fund diversification so that small scale fishermen have a second leg to stand on. I will financially support social dialogue meetings for small scale fishermen, so that they can network and exchange best practises. I will also fund marketing initiatives.

I will also fund associations of fishermen to give them a stronger role vis a vis wholesalers and to help them get better prices for their fish. And let me tell you that for all these measures the small scale fishermen will receive a higher co funding. Finally I want to give aquaculture a financial boost for growth in both inland waters and in coastal areas.

This is what I want to do to help fishermen through the transition to social sustainability.
There is no mention of the looming real CFP, that is equal access becoming the rule. Will they simply forget about it? The Spanish, for one, will remind them.

Monday, 14 November 2011

No it isn't

An interesting short piece, just a posting really, by Drew Scott, Professor of European Union Studies at the University of Edinburgh (we can guess what his views are even before we read what he has to say).

He is mainly reassuring his readers that an "independent" Scotland will not be forced to join the eurozone. At the end, however, he raises the question of that famed policy of "repatriating" powers:

Finally, on the matter of opt-outs, the UK government seems intent on seeking repatriation of powers from Brussels. What opinion has it had from its lawyers on the legality, not to mention likely success, of this? If successful, this may open up an entirely new landscape of possibilities confronting Scotland in the EU. I wonder if opting out of the Common Fisheries Policy is on Mr Cameron’s list.

We know the answer to that. No it is not.

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council met today at 10 am.
The points on the agenda are:


External dimensions of the reform of Common Fisheries Policy
Ministers will discuss the Commission’s Communication on the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This was part of the package of proposals for a reform of the CFP, adopted on 13 July (IP/11/873).

The reform foresees an active role of EU within international bodies and in its relations with third countries. Almost 85% of the world fish stocks for which information is available are reported as being either fully exploited or overexploited, according to the FAO. So, the EU has to act abroad as it does at home and promote good governance and a sound management of the sea in the rest of the world, ensuring at the same time human rights for workers in fishing industries and sustainability in sea basins and oceans around the world. These principles will guide the EU’s involvement in international and regional organisations as well as in bilateral fisheries agreements with non-EU countries.

Sustainable Fisheries Agreements (SFAs) will replace the existing Fisheries Partnership Agreements (FPAs) and they will ensure that the exploitation of fishery resources takes place on the basis of sound scientific advice only targeting surplus resources that the partner country cannot or does not want to fish itself. Under SFAs, partner countries shall be compensated for granting access to their fishing resources and financial assistance shall be provided to the partner countries for the implementation of a sustainable fisheries policy.

There will, undoubtedly, be a statement later. The small print will be interesting to read.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Kingfisher Fortnightly Bulletin is out

You have to scroll down.

We predicted a very nasty civil war in the Scottish Conservative Party and it is coming to pass. The BBC and others report that a "high-profile QC has left the Scottish Conservatives following the election of the party's new leader". Mr McBride may be high-profile but he has been in the Conservative Party only since 2009, so his departure will not leave much of a gap. On the other hand, the Conservatives in Scotland have lost their way and any in-fighting is bad news.

It seems that Mr McBride is particularly upset at the Scottish Conservatives opposing legislation that would tackle sectarianism, a tricky proposition at best. Mr McBride did not mince his words:

Mr McBride later released a statement which added: "The Scottish Tories are no friends of the people of Scotland.

"The MSP group is divided and dysfunctional. Their only policy is to oppose everything and contribute nothing. Half the membership wants the party abolished and 87% of the electorate despise them.

"Their naked opportunism regarding the minimum pricing bill and the offensive behaviour bill demonstrates why they will remain unelectable."

As far as this blog is concerned the main question is, naturally, what will the Scottish Conservative Party's policy be on fisheries and, in particular, will the new leader, Ruth Davidson, understand what the Common Fisheries Policy is all about.

The omens are not very good. Ms Davidson defeated Murdo Fraser, whose platform was the formation of a completely now party with new policies, not least of which would have been withdrawal from the CFP, though we never found out how he was going to achieve that.

Ms Davidson's pronouncements seem more in line with the familiar Conservative mush:

Pledging to overhaul the party machinery in Scotland, she promised to launch two new policy commissions to look at support for the Scottish business and fishing communities, both of which she said she would listen to.

It is just possible that the commission that will be asked about support for the fishing community will tell Ms Davidson that it is an unattainable goal while the country is in the CFP. Just possible.