Unfortunately for us all Fishing News no longer has its own website. Therefore, we cannot link to the first of Richard Benyon's monthly
vacuous pronouncements of Conservative policy articles on matters to do with fisheries. Instead, we have decided to copy the text onto the blog. It was published on April 20.
This is the first of a series of monthly columns for Fishing News which I want to use to address the issues that fishermen up and down the country are facing. As the Minister for Fisheries, my job is to ensure that the fishing industry can thrive. I never thought this would be an easy task and the last 18months couldn't have demonstrated. more clearly that different people have different ideas on how we should progress. But it is important that we all head in the same •direction. I believe 2012 provide some of the biggest opportunities we have ever had to shape the future as we work to reform the broken Common Fisheries Policy. This is a policy that I hear many fishermen complain about and I have never hidden my belief that it needs major overhaul. It has failed to achieve its intention which was to protect stocks for a prosperous fishing industry
Some say that protecting fish stocks and allowing fishermen to flourish are mutually exclusive and that one has to give. I couldn’t disagree more. We need healthy fish stocks to support a healthy industry will continue to work with the industry and with all who have a legitimate interest in managing our fish resources responsibly, to achieve both.
Last month I attended the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels at which we debated how to tackle the problem of discards. Everyone agrees we must take action: there is more argument over how best we do this. Some want a blanket discard ban: simple in theory but far from simple in practice. I believe the best way to make progress towards eliminating discards is through a fishery-by-fishery approach enabling fishermen to adopt measures that suit the circumstances of different fisheries, A local approach will allow us to work with fishermen on the ideas that will actually succeed in practice.
The starting point must be to reduce unwanted catches in the first place, and to account for everything caught at sea. In the UK, we have been trialing a catch quota scheme which does just that. On a voluntary basis fishermen who join the scheme account for everything they take from the sea and landall they catch, regardless of size. Results published last week show the Catch Quota system has been successful. Discards of North Sea cod and Western Channel sole are reduced to 0.2% of catches .in 2010, average discard rates for N. Sea cod trawlers. were 38% and 28% for Western Channel sole beam trawlers. This is a tremendous result and I applaud the contribution whichfishermen have made to this success. I am very pleased that •more fishermen have joined the 2012 catch. quota scheme and I believe that we can build on last years success. You can read more about the success of last year's trial in the annual report which is now on the MMO website. I want everyone to know that I am keen to hear from fishermen on ways in which we can help the UK fishing fleet - both the under and over ten metre boats -to ensure that we can protect livelihoods. I want to ensure we have a thriving fishing industry for the long term and at the same time we protect fish stocks around the UK.
As our readers will note, Mr Benyon seems incapable of understanding the main point of the Common Fisheries Policy in that it is a policy whose aim is to integrate the different countries' fisheries and create a single European fishing ground and, eventually, a single European fishing fleet. His attention is firmly focused on the details and not the main issue.