Monday, 27 August 2012

More from FAL Newsletter

Here is some interesting information and comment from FAL Newsletter (not it isn't just a collection of recipes though there is much to be said for that).

The European Commission is proposing a ban on deep sea trawling and gillnetting in NE Atlantic. Let us not forget that while the Common Fisheries Policy is in place and the UK is part of it, the Commission's proposals need to be taken very seriously, since they are likely to become part of the CFP's structure and the so-called reforms are not going to change that. The policy will still be centralized.
On 26 July the European Commission published a legislative proposal to regulate deep sea fishing in the North East Atlantic over the next 10 years. One measure has stood out from the rest: a phasing out of licences for deep sea trawling and bottom gillnetting over the next two years. 

The ban will end all deep water trawling and gill netting below 1000m depth and for some fisheries below 500m. It will apply to all fishing in EU waters and all EU vessels operating on the high seas in the NEAFC (North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission) region. Deep sea trawling, which drags heavy nets across the seabed, is recognised to be harmful to the fragile deep sea marine habitats and destructive to deep sea fish stocks. Fish species living in the deep sea environment are highly vulnerable and have been severely depleted, according to EU assessments. 

NGOs heralded the proposal as “historic”. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) (SEE BELOW FAL COMMENT) stated: “The proposal is strong and, if adopted, would mark a significant turning point in the fortunes of the deep sea, which have been recognised as needing urgent protection from destructive fishing practices”. 

Initially a veto— pressure from the French Commissioner, Michel Barnier, meant publication was blocked. But that seems to have been withdrawn only 30 minutes before the legal deadline in the face of mounting opposition to his stance. 

France and Spain are the two countries predominantly involved in the fishery. 

Initial reactions opposing the ban have been sharp. The French Fisheries Minister has said the proposal is “unacceptable” and that he will oppose it. A representative of ScapĂȘche, a French company directly involved in deep sea trawling, said it was “A loss of reason. 

The Commission’s position is purely political”. The Commission Proposal will now be sent to the EU Fisheries Ministers and the European Parliament for adoption. The debates are very likely to be heated.

However, the whole story is not as straightforward as you might think. FAL thinks it is worth having a look at the various NGOs involved in the campaign.

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition has notable members including the RSPB and the Pew Foundation which is one of the funders of Ocean 2012.

Ocean 12 does not have its own funds. The coalition’s activities are carried out and funded entirely by its member groups — Oak Foundation Geneva and the Pew Environment Group the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia.

If you want to see what the industry is up against with the aggressiveness of extremely well funded NGOs have a look at highlighted on the Ocean 12 website.

Quote from this website: “fishlove is an ongoing project that invites well-known personalities across the globe to make a bold stand to stop over-fishing. Scientists predict that all marine life will effectively disappear from our oceans by the middle of this century if nothing is done about over-fishing. The people in these photographs want over-fishing to stop. All fish taken in the photographs were kindly donated by Waitrose, and have been caught sustainably according to the company’s impeccable environmental policy.”

Ocean 2012—Transforming European Fisheries is something else. Their video “ Ending overfishing” launched to celebrate Fishweeks 8 June to 31 August is a masterpiece of propaganda—End overfishing or fishing will be over.

While it is not unreasonable that organizations outside the industry are listened to we cannot help wondering why it is that

As Cormac Burke Fishing News Editor wrote in FN of 3 August  “Welcome to the fishing industry-a sector populated by those who must endure anti industry, often completely untruthful and dramatic stories in the national press on a daily basis. Heaven forbid if the industry were to say something mildly incorrect about an environmentalist.

Why exactly is the assumption that members of the industry are always wrong has become so acceptable by the political establishment and, unfortunately, the media?


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