Thursday, August 4, 2011

Victoria's Green Matters 3rd August 2011

Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:
There was good news from the European Union (EU) last week that the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) practice of discarding healthy fish at sea is to be phased out and long-term plans established to ensure that fish stocks become healthy for future generations. Fish discards have been the subject of a campaign, ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight’, by TV personality, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, which highlighted the continuing obscenity of throwing away perfectly good food because the fisherman had exceeded his quota or had caught fish outside his quota.

The EU fisheries chief, Maria Damanaki, has said that action is needed now and she wants to ensure that fish stocks are at sustainable levels by 2015. This poses something of a problem because most fish stocks in Europe are already overfished. Recent academic studies have suggested that present fish stocks are less than 10% of post-war levels. This is because Europe’s fishing fleet is too large and has been overfishing for many years. There will be opposition from fishing groups that feel that they will be penalised under new rules but it is imperative that fish stocks are kept healthy and productive for the future.

The new proposals will include targets and time frames to stop overfishing and ways that enable fishermen to trade their quotas. Some fishermen will be able to leave the industry if they wish and there will be support for small fisheries. Plans also include decision making being devolved from Brussels to the regions, which will please many who fear the bureaucracy of the European Commission.

But these proposals are just proposals and many people have to agree to them before they are put in place. There is urgent need to reform our fishing industry so that we can support the jobs and communities that rely on it and ensure fish stocks for years to come.

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