In parliament >> Fish need sex!

15th July 2011


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  • Natural resources ,
  • Food and drink ,
  • EU ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Agriculture

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IEMA

Chris Davies, Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson in the European Parliament, welcomes the new EU fisheries commissers moves to reform the common fisheries policy.

Out of sight, beneath the surface of the waters, a massive exercise in environmental destruction has been going on. Fish stocks are in many cases down by 90% compared with their numbers a century ago.

Modern, large vessels equipped with the latest tracking technology hunt down what remains. Too often the fish they catch have not even had a chance to breed. Still more often, they may be discarded, dead, because they are of little commercial value or landing them would exceed the permitted quotas.

The new EU fisheries commissioner, Maria Damanaki, is a gutsy Greek woman who fought the army dictators in her country and is prepared to fight anyone who gets in the way of the radical policy reforms she has proposed. She says things that some do not like to hear. Too many boats are chasing too few fish. Overfishing must cease.

Long-term plans based on good science must replace annual quotas. Discards must not be permitted.

Reform will cost jobs in the short term but if there are no fish there will be no fishing industry.She faces stiff opposition from the industry and from the governments they influence. Many will think her approach long overdue.

These are the reforms the EU must make, she says. If it does not make them, then there will be no fish left. She seems, at least, to have strong support from the UK government, and in the European Parliament the cross-party Fish for the Future Group.

The vicious circle of decline can be broken. Our seas are capable of supporting many times more fish than exist at present. Stock recoveries could be swift. If we get this reform right we could have more fish in the sea and more jobs for fishermen. But first the fish that remain must be given a chance to live, and to reproduce.

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