Wednesday, 14 March 2012

FAL will be there

Further to our little excursion into the mind and activity of Chris Davies, Liberal-Democrat MEP and self-styled expert on fisheries, there will be a public debate in Peterhead on the subject on March 30 with "three leading members of the European Parliament" taking part.

It will take place at the Waterside Inn, near Peterhead between 18.00 and 19.30.

 It is free to attend and open to all, but advance registration is required. To register, or with any queries, please email or call: 0131 557 78 66.

Representatives of FAL will be there.

This posting has to start with an apology. For various reasons there was a long break in updates. The reasons have now been dealt with and the blog will resume with a vengeance.

Our attention has been called to yet another self-styled expert on the fishing industry, to wit, Chris Davies the Liberal-Democrat MEP, a man who, as his CV shows, has been in politics or political PR all his working life. In this he resembles a number of other politicians today.

He is the co-ordinator on the Committee of Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. He was Rapporteur for the main Regulation and the man who set up the inanely named (to go with the inanely grinning photo) Fish for the Future committee.

What can one say about somebody who seriously writes this sort of stuff:

If fish stocks are to recover then the tonnage of the fish caught must be temporarily reduced, and we have to make use of the financially less attractive fish that are caught but are presently discarded. More fish have got to have a chance to breed before they are caught. In some fisheries this will mean that there must be some pain in order to secure long term gain, and that will arouse strong opposition.

There is a real danger that the Commission’s reforms will be hijacked by vested interests who think only of the short term. The Coalition Government in the UK will be strongly in favour I believe, but in the Council of Ministers strong opposition can be expected from Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal and maybe Poland. I expect this pattern will be replicated in the European Parliament, which has equal decision-making powers.

It is easy to understand why he has been referred to as self-styled expert. The whole posting is full of meaningless waffle of this kind, all of it meant to promote himself as the man who will save Europe's fish and fishermen. After all, nobody else has noticed that things were not quite what they ought to be.

To be fair, his committee did produce a long report with many amendments to the Commission's proposals. The amendments seem to take somewhat vague proposals and add words such as "sustainable" to make them even less likely to be put into effect. But it is possible that one or two of our readers who might plough through this document will find something useful in it. If so, could you let us know through the Comments system?

Of course, it does not occur to Chris Davies or his committee that the CFP, which is an entirely political construct whose aim is the creation of a single European fisheries and in which decisions are taken at the centre through political negotiations cannot possibly deliver on any of the promises of sustainable fisheries or scientific conservation, never mind the notion of a sensibly developing fisheries industry.

Still, we are glad to see that Mr Davies remains very satisfied with his work though we are disturbed by his worries that sensible ideas like his will be overcome by everybody else's selfishness and short-termism.

In the European Parliament all the amendments will eventually be considered by the Fisheries Committee, and its membership has a bias towards Spanish, French and Italian MEPs who are not the most progressive. Meanwhile, the Commissioner tells me that Fisheries Ministers on the Council seem once again to be ignoring the big picture about the dire state of our seas and defending instead the narrow interests of their large scale fishermen. It wouldn’t be so bad if the representatives of the nations only minimally involved in fishing were to speak up in favour of reform, but so far they are not getting involved.

We shall see how the debate progresses over the next few months. Woody Allen once said “the world is run by the people who turn up”. In this instance the wrong people seem to be there.

Please note that throw-away comment about Woody Allen, designed to show what a cool guy Chris Davies is: he knows all about films and even someone who was ever so trendy ... oh, about twenty years ago. Still, he is not far wrong: the wrong people do seem to turn up for the CFP debates, not least self-satisfied and ignorant MEPs.