Fisheries reform 'passes major hurdle'
by Julie Girling
Proposals adopted by MEPs to end discards, improve the labelling of fish products and put in place incentives for sustainability show that Common Fisheries Policy reform is moving in the right direction, writes Conservative MEP
Reform of the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy passed a major hurdle this month as the European Parliament's fisheries committee adopted proposals put forward by Conservative MEPs. The practice of discarding edible fish that are under quota or too small – known as bycatch – will end.
Producer organisations will receive European Maritime and Fisheries Fund support to promote the avoidance of bycatch through selective fisheries gear, and then handle any unwanted catches. Under Conservative proposals, this catch will be used for purposes such as bait, fishmeal, fish oil or pet food, with a proportion of the profit going to fishermen to compensate them for the cost of landing the fish and another part going to a fund for scientific research and conservation.
Large, commercial edible fish, which have to be landed under the discard ban because they are out of quota, will be sold on the market in the normal way, with the profits again split between compensation to the vessels and to a conservation fund. This differs from the European Commission proposal, which would have seen unwanted catches being given away free of charge, distorting the market.
It is vital to incentivise for a more sustainable fishery, and support fishermen at the same time. We have fought a long battle on committee to negotiate the best deal for our fishermen, and these proposals will ensure better labelling of fish products, elimination of discards and wide ranging incentives for more sustainable practices.
Conservatives tabled a report setting out the so-called Common Market Organisation of the CFP – the general set of measures that manage fisheries markets. It covers everything from product labelling, through to the role of producer organisations that encourage cooperation between fish 'producers' to better manage resources in a way that makes ecological and economic sense.
The objectives of the CMO are to create a marketplace that encourages sustainable practices. Conservative proposals significantly enhance the role of producer organisations, particularly in giving advice to member states on fisheries management issues. Producer organisations would also be encouraged to provide vocational training for prospective fishermen, and to create new jobs in coastal and rural areas.
The role of producer organisations cannot be underestimated. They are there to look after fishermen's interests by ensuring that profitable but not profligate fishing is taking place. Of course this is not the end of the line: many months of tough negotiations are still ahead of us. But we are moving in the right direction.
Julie Girling is a Conservative MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, and sits on the fisheries committee in the European Parliament
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Most people don't realise this but modern society has decimated the oceans. Globally, 90 per cent of fish have disappeared. Take the Mediterranean Sea, for example. This sea used to be so densely populated with fish, they would literally slow ships down. Since industrialisation began we have been taking more and more fish from the oceans and with the introduction of consumerism and mass production the oceans have become a graveyard of its past abundance.
We have left a decimated planet for our children and really planted our place in history as the most greedy and ignorant humans to ever walk this earth. The sad truth is, most of society still don't see the damage we have done and they won't, not until it directly impacts their own selfish life of materialism.
This destructive path humanity is on should have been recognised and corrected many hundreds of years ago, back when places like Iraq had densely populated forests to were cut down in the name of human progress. Time has all but run out for humanity on this planet, the end of oil will see to that and believe me, technology will not get us out of this mess we've brought onto ourselves. As the natural order goes, "life is death" and we've certainly guaranteed ours.
Sorry if this comment doesn't conform to conventional denials which are disguised as optimistic visions of the future but it's about time someone started speaking the truth. Everything I have written is true but do your own honest research if you doubt what I say. The truth is an unpleasant one.
Richard Reeve - Chertsey