Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

A very happy Christmas to all readers of this blog. The fight will continue after the festivities.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Let us begin

We shall have much to say about the agreement reached at the end of the Fishing Council on Saturday, but let us begin by linking to an article by Patrick Sawer in the Daily Telegraph.

The title is: Fishermen angry at European Union decision to reduce number of days at sea. It is perfectly understandable that fishermen should be angry at this decision:

Although the British fishing fleet will be allowed to catch bigger quotas, it faces an estimated 15 to 25 per cent cut in the number of days at sea following marathon talks which ended at dawn on Saturday in Brussels. As a result of the deal the UK’s fleet will be confined to port for longer than ever. That will make it hard for trawlers to take advantage of some big rises in fish catch quotas agreed following the success of conservation measures in some regions. Britain fended off moves to cut fishermen’s days at sea to just four a fortnight next year, in exchange for greater national fish conservation efforts. But boats will still be confined to ports for longer than before.
On the other hand, the various organizations cannot be surprised. This was on the cards all along: there would be cuts in days at sea to accommodate the demands for the elimination of discards and, at the same time, to make it possible for all the CFP fleets to go on fishing in what is designated as Community waters. This is, after all, a common policy. Nor shall the problems be solved until we are out of it and are in a position to make our own decisions to suit our own fishing industry.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Moroccans can, we can't

The European Voice reports that the EU-Moroccan fisheries pact is off.

More than 100 Spanish boats will no longer be able to fish in waters off Morocco after the European Parliament rejected the extension of a deal under which the EU paid Morocco €36 million for fishing licences every year.

MEPs yesterday (14 December) narrowly rejected a proposal by the European Commission for a one-year extension of the agreement. The agreement had expired in February but continued provisionally to apply.

MEPs rejected a recommendation by Parliament's fisheries committee to approve the extension with 326 votes against, 296 in favour and 58 abstentions. The vote terminates the provisional application of the proposed extension with immediate effect.

Carl Haglund, a Finnish Liberal MEP, found in his report on the extension that the existing agreement created disproportionate costs to the EU, led to excessive exploitation of fish stocks and failed to provide benefits to the population of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco, in whose waters most of the fishing takes place.

There is a reason for these agreements - they are a way of relieving the pressure off the dwindling stock of fish in EU waters by directing the large and always growing Spanish fleet into the waters of developing countries. Unsurprisingly, the better equipped Spanish (mostly) fishing fleet drives the remaining local fishermen out of business. In return the EU hands over aid to the governments in question, aid that, on all available evidence, stays with the governments and officials, never reaching the supposed target, that is the fishing communities that are being destroyed.

Morocco has a chance of escaping from that trap. The UK, of course, cannot do so, as we are actually part of the CFP not simply someone who signs a bilateral agreement with the EU. The same will go for Scotland, should it ever have a presence in the EU that is separate from the UK, as the SNP would like.

Incidentally, the Spanish are not giving up easily:

RaĆ¼l Romeva i Rueda, a Spanish Green MEP who is his group's spokesman on fisheries, welcomed the vote. “Any future EU-Morocco fisheries agreement must exclude Western Saharan waters, over which the Moroccan government has no rights,” he said. “This agreement is a shameful stain on EU foreign policy and it is time it was consigned to the past.”

Does this mean Spanish Green MEPs have seen the light and will now oppose the CFP on environmental grounds?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Just so you know

Repatriation of powers or withdrawal from the Common Fisheries Policy is off the agenda. These things can be done only through the negotiating and writing of a new treaty. David Cameron has not insisted on a full IGC and a new treaty as he had every right to do under the EU's own rules. Therefore, there will be no repatriation of powers, no new treaty, no full Parliamentary debate and no referendum on the new treaty. We thought our readers would like to know what the outcome of that European Council was really.

On this blog we shall continue to argue the case against the CFP and to highlight its many problems (to put it mildly).

Here is a posting about David Cameron's promises with regards of what will happen after the negotiations this week-end. As our readers can see, the famous referendum lock will not brought into action. Its utter uselessness was predicted at the time of the passing of the European Union Act.

Downing Street is promising, however, that a new Treaty will have to go through Parliament. As the posting says, big deal. All the treaties went through Parliament as they require primary legislation.

Mr Clarke is sounding off, as usual, but he is probably right in his assertions that there will be no renegotiations though his usual placebos about the need to play a positive and constructive role have become tiresome. We know where all that has got us.

So far, there has not been a single mention of the Common Fisheries Policy. But then we do know that Mr Cameron is not in favour of a sensible fisheries policy, as discarding it was his first action as Conservative Party leader.

There is some discussion as to whether the planned tightening of fiscal rules or, in effect, a creation of fiscal integration will be a new treaty or not. If it is then, according to the EU's own rules, it needs a unanimous agreement and implementation in all the member states. If not, as the President of the European Council appears to think, then far-reaching changes will be introduced by just a few of the members agreeing.

More here.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Happy St Nicholas' Day

Patron saint of, among others, fishermen. The others: children, sailors, merchants, broadcasters, the falsely accused, prostitutes, repentant thieves, pharmacists, archers, pawnbrokers. And, no doubt, sweet makers. Someone asked me what his opinion would have been of fishing quotas though a more pertinent question would be what his opinion would have been of the destructive CFP.