Something unprecedented happened yesterday. Greenpeace campaigners and part of the UK fishing industry came together to deliver 10,000 messages from Greenpeace supporters about the need for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy to Number 10.
Greenpeace and the fishing industry? We have more in common than you might think - certainly with the small-scale, more sustainable sector. One clear aim for both of us is to get the future of Europe’s fish high onto the prime minister’s agenda for 2012. We both want a reformed Common Fisheries Policy that rewards fishermen who fish more sustainably and selectively, with less impact on the environment.
We are both calling for reforms that would give us healthy levels of fish stocks, as well as creating a fairer balance of fishing quotas between the under-10 metre boats and the larger industrial-scale boats. The "under 10s" sector should be championed as it provides greater benefits not only to the environment but the economy and society at large.
The timing for the petition hand in is significant in another way. Today, fisheries ministers across Europe - including the UK’s Richard Benyon - are in Brussels haggling over next year’s fish quotas. This is the annual debacle where we witness Europe’s own scientists advising them on safe levels of fish to catch, and then the ministers ‘improving’ them.
We will find out in a few hours what has been decided. One thing is for sure, a miracle has to happen for quota levels to depart from the trend since 2003, where they have been set on average 47 per cent higher than scientists advise. The challenge for Benyon and the UK’s fish heads in Brussels is to now stop paying lip service to ‘radical reform’ and actually do something radical instead.
A huge amount of work was put into the 10,000 personal messages for Cameron, representing the strength of public support for the UK government to secure a sustainable future for our oceans. Here are some of our favourites below. Thank you very much to everyone that contributed to this petition.