Monday, 25 February 2013

Perhaps we should think more radically

The Property and Environment Centre (PERC) has published a research and policy paper that takes a radical look at the whole subject.

Much has been written by scholars at PERC and elsewhere on the successful application of property rights to coastal marine fisheries in New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and elsewhere. The use of individual transferable quotas allocated to fishers has been shown to help overcome the environmentally and economically destructive race to catch fish, a problem that has plagued government-regulated ocean fisheries for years.

These programs are typically executed in a top-down manner by a government agency in charge of fisheries management. As such they rely not only on adequate capacity and management skills but also on supportive political economy conditions that include the rule of law, a reliable system of monitoring and enforcement, and broad-based political representation to ensure increased accountability of public officials.
The paper concentrates on three developing countries: Chile (is it still developing?), Bangladesh and Indonesia but the lessons might well apply to others, especially those that have been devastated by the CFP and will, one day, have to rebuild their fishing industry.



Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Fish Fight Campaign grossly misleading

Around the UK and in International waters almost 200 THOUSAND SQUARE MILES of seabed is closed to the UK fishing industry. The list is endless of closed or restricted areas both actual and potential - Marine Protected Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), Sites of Special Scientific Interest, UK Real Time Closures of sea areas where there are concentrations of cod, EU Real Time Closures for juvenile cod, haddock, whiting and saithe plus all year closures such as the Windsock off the west of Scotland supposedly to protect cod, Darwin Mounds and Rockall Bank to protect cold water coral, Stanton Bank (reef features) not to mention the impact on the fishing industry of oil and gas plus green energy  operations.

127 MCZs in English waters alone are in the pipeline under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, on top of the all the existing SACs or of all the other industry-led conservation initiatives that are underway.

The Scottish fishing industry is currently in dialogue with Marine Scotland to identify Marine Protected Areas as part of a UK network to meet EU requirements.

What the industry does not need is the continuing harassment by environmental extremists backed by substantial sums of money from charitable groups such as the Oak Foundation in the Fish Fight campaign. That Foundation funded Keo Films to the tune of almost $500k. HFW is a Director and presenter of the company which has produced his and Professor Callum Roberts latest unbalanced assault on the industry.

HFW says absolutely nothing about the effects on marine life of all the pollution, chemicals, agricultural run-off that pours into coastal waters ever year, aggregate dredging, seals etc. No, it's all down to fishermen - despite the fleet being a shadow of what it was. 

His statement that 75% of the world's surface is ocean but that only 0.001% of that is protected is also utterly misleading as only a very small fraction of that 75% is fishable coastal shelf waters.

Does the public not care about the harm that is being done to an industry which is teetering on the edge of viability by the relentless biased pressure of “celebrities?”  

This current campaign is just another demoralising element which threatens the livelihood of fishermen whose families have worked with nature for generations to provide food for the UK.

Over the last 10 years the industry has worked tirelessly with scientists and Marine Scotland and its predecessors along with responsible environmental groups in open, transparent discussions to resolve policy differences which allow us to coexist.

People like HFW and Professor Roberts preach radical conservation which if implemented would result in the seas being returned to some kind of pristine, pre-industrial era state. 

They don't apply this criterion to the landscape, which has of course been totally transformed by agriculture for centuries.    

The seabed is no different from the land, it needs to be worked on and turned over to release the nutrients that sustain the whole ecosystem.

This current Fish Fight campaign involving a march on Westminster will only fuel the growing anger amongst hard working fishermen and their families at the gross misrepresentation of the facts. They do not deserve to be portrayed in a manner that is totally contrary to the actions they have taken and are continuing to take to protect fish stocks for future generations.

But why is this misrepresentation happening? Has the public queried what the real motive is of Foundations such as the Oak when it comes to splashing out millions of US dollars in their quest for marine conservation?

Oak is only one of the charitable foundations currently pumping vast amounts of money into environmental NGOs dealing with fisheries. The Pew Charitable Trust, David and Lucille Packard Foundation, Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, in addition to the Oak Foundation, have put an estimated $75million into direct lobbying activities in Europe since 2000, and in so doing have  raised concerns as to their real motive.

Most of these foundations share the same view about extreme nature conservancy, based on the American view of the ‘Wilderness’. But what is their reason for investing millions of US$ on marine conservation?

The following may, to some extent, provide the answer to this largesse.

It is an extract from the October 2012 paper BLUE CHARITY BUSINESS, Reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy First appraisal 2000-2011 International foundations, Environmental Non Governmental Organizations [ENGOs] and coalitions.

The reason officially promoted is ocean conservation in a vision of wilderness.

However, we quote some troubling facts which might suggest some other motivations.

Firstly, the European Commission has a strategy regarding maritime affairs, named Blue Growth - opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth, a program of promotion and support to marine activities which ignore fishing industry to favour marine conservation, tourism, exploitation of seabed minerals, marine renewable energy and off-shore activities, etc. These areas of the marine economy are supported by promises of jobs creation and major earnings. This strategy presents them as new pioneer fronts and of targeting a new marine Eldorado.

Secondly, these new pioneer fronts will need vast marine areas freed from any competing activities. Recent new findings made in marine gas and oil exploration, in areas which are heavily used by current fishing activities (Celtic sea), and future developments of offshore-wind energy will require big-sized offshore areas. It is the same for the future exploration of marine rare earths. The new pioneers may be disturbed by current fishing activities. Up to now, the conditions of cohabitation between off-shore renewable energy and the fishing activities, especially the bottom towed-fishing gear ones, are not clear. Until now, the British marine renewable areas are not opened to fishing activities.

Thirdly, we may think the US foundations which are currently involved in the lobbying are not fully independent, neither from off-shore gas and oil exploitation interests, nor from the supply of high-technology industries in rare earths ones. This presumption is done according to the composition of the board of trustees of these foundations.”

Is it not time for there to be a serious look by the All Party Fisheries Committee in the House of Commons and by the Scottish Parliament at the activities of these organisations as their network of influence spreads?

Sandy Patience
FAL Chairman
20 February 2013

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Can we discard journalists?

We  have been collecting information and opinions about the so-called fisheries reform and will report on it all very soon. In the meantime, however, we have to express the opinion that there ought to be a way of discarding journalists (and politicians, not to mention NGOs), particularly so harmful to the environment as George Monbiot.

Mr Monbiot or Mr Moonbat, as he  is known affectionately to many of us, has spoken on the subject of discards and fisheries policy, revealing a great deal of ignorance.

If the EU decides to ban fishing boats from discarding the edible fish they catch, it'll land the British government in a spot of bother. It's been using the discards issue as its excuse for justifying overfishing.

Well, of course, that is all fishermen yearn to do: waste their resources while risking life and limb in order to discard half of what they caught.

Mr Moonbat should really learn some facts. Yes, it is true that fisheries scientists are against discards but many of them are also in favour of sustainable and well-planned fishing that can be put into place only if decisions are taken as locally as possible. That means real decisions not ones within the highly centralized and politicized Common Fisheries Policy.