Today we’re launching “Be a fisherman’s friend” campaign - an unprecedented alliance between Greenpeace and UK sustainable fishermen, to push for a real reform of broken EU fishing laws.
I’ve spent a lot of time around the British coast this past year, seeing for myself how sustainable, small boat, fishermen are struggling to survive. These fishermen are being put out of business by European policies and UK governance that shuts them out and threatens their livelihoods. It’s been heart-breaking to meet fishermen who have fished responsibly for generations, but may be the last of their kind.
In recent decades, the law that governs Europe’s fishing industry - the Common Fisheries Policy, has totally failed both our fish and our local fishermen. Over 70% of Europe’s fish stocks are overfished, while fishermen, who look after their patch and fish sustainably, face an uncertain future. Our new campaign aims to get a better deal for sustainable coastal fishermen at both a European and UK level.
This year’s reform of the CFP offers a once-in-a-decade chance to make things right. We’ve joined up with the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, and fishermen we’ve met around the coast, to call for real change. We’re demanding a reformed CFP that puts the health of our seas and fish stocks at its heart, gives fishing rights to sustainable fishermen and stops using taxpayer subsidies to keep high-impact fishing vessels afloat.
Coastal fishermen often tell me that they don’t feel like they have a voice and in any case, they’re too busy trying to eke out a living under unjust policies to represent themselves at political meetings. This campaign aims to change that, by giving fishermen like John Griffin and Bud White, sustainable fishermen from Hastings, the opportunity to be heard.
While not all small-scale fishing is perfect and not all big boats are bad, most of the small-scale fleet represent sustainable fishing practices that can be a genuine part of the solution, if properly supported. Which is why it’s crucial that we champion their cause – together, we can be a voice for real change that will salvage a future for our fish, fishermen and the coastal communities that rely on them.
It’s time to give our sustainable fishermen a fair catch. Be a fisherman’s friend now and send our sea shanty petition to fisheries minister, Richard Benyon.