Thursday, 3 September 2015

A fine example of that "reformed" policy

Worry not, we have been told whenever we have expressed certain reservations about the Common Fisheries Policy of which we shall continue to be members as long as we are members of the European Union, it has now been reformed and more sensible rules will be imposed. Please note the word "imposed". That is exactly what the CFP consists of: rules made at the centre, often for reasons of politicking between the member states and then imposed on all fishermen.

Take this story from Cornwall:

Cornish fishermen expressed concern about the fact that while there has been an increasing number of sporadic but significant hauls of spurdog (Squalus acanthias), no landing of the species has been allowed by the European Union since 2010.

These fishermen consider that it would be logical to think that a zero total allowable catch (TAC) for spurdog means a zero take or zero fishing mortality on the stock, but as spurdog are widespread and locally abundant throughout the Western Approaches and other areas of the North East Atlantic this is simply not the case.

The reality is that there are accidental by-catches of spurdog in many mixed-fisheries not just in Cornwall but around the UK, which inevitably leads to a level of fishing mortality of the resource.

Under the current EU management regime these perfectly good fish must be discarded whether they are dead or alive. There is no real benefit for the stock, fishermen or wider society under the current regime of discarding dead spurdog. This is a waste of a perfectly good food resource and is clearly not in line with the principles of the recently reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and in particular the much heralded Landings Obligation (“discard ban”).

Let us hear it again for the great benefits of the CFP and how it has been reformed and made rational and local. (Yes, we are being sarcastic.)

The news that the EU has decided to cut Baltic catch limits for 2016 is, perhaps, of marginal interest to UK fishermen though some of them might fish in the Baltic, but we were intrigued by the following comment:

The EU introduced a reformed Common Fisheries Policy in January 2014 to end decades of overfishing and help dwindling stocks recover.

Under the new policy, the Commission aims to set catch limits at levels that ensure fish stocks never drop below the minimum level at which they can be fished without having an impact on the long-term stability of the population.

Let us have a look at the points made there. So the CFP had to be reformed in order "to end decades of overfishing and help dwindling stocks recover". Exactly, how long have we had this policy in place? Some decades and yet under its benign control there has been serious overfishing and stocks are dwindling.

During those decades we have had numerous "reforms" though this one has been touted as the biggest since .... oh ..... the last biggest. It seems that overfishing has continued and the stocks went on dwindling.

It seems that, despite that, nothing is being learnt. The Commission, we are told, "aims to set catch limits at levels that ensure fish stocks etc. etc.". Is that not what the Commission has been doing for all those decades during which there was overfishing and the stocks kept dwindling?