Fishing Policy reform at risk of “hijack”

25 Jan 2011

A cross-party alliance of Euro-MPs determined to prevent a “hijack” of planned EU Common Fisheries Policy reform will hold its first meeting in Brussels today.

The ‘Fish for the Future’ group will press for policy change with the aim of securing more fish in the sea and more jobs for fishermen.

But one of the MEPs behind the initiative, British Liberal Democrat Chris Davies, has warned fishermen that the price to be paid for long term improvement could in many cases be a reduction in fishing effort over the short term.

With 80% of European seas said to be fished unsustainably the European Commission is expected by June to publish plans for radical reform intended to restore fish stocks to sustainable levels.

Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, has announced already that she wants all fishing quotas to respect scientific evidence and that management responsibilities will be devolved from Brussels to regional fisheries groups.

MEPs who support change fear that reform proposals are at risk of being undermined by governments and their representatives in the European Parliament swayed by demands for fishing to continue without restriction.

Liberal Democrat Chris Davies MEP claims that Europe’s fishing fleets must be cut before fish numbers can increase, and he warns that the planned reforms will face fierce resistance.

He said: “Europe has too many boats chasing too few fish. If there is to be hope for the future the fish must be given a chance to breed before they are caught.

“Reforms that are needed for the long term are at risk of being hijacked by those who refuse to see beyond the short term and the immediate demands of fishermen.

“This has happened time and again in the past, and the result has left our seas empty and Europe dependent on imports for nearly 70% of all the fish we eat.

The ‘Fish for the Future’ group meeting in the European Parliament will hear from Commission representatives, environment group WWF, and spokespeople for major food retailers.

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