Time to transform our fishing industry: for fishermen and the ocean.
George Eustice MP, fisheries minister has the power to transform the UK’s fishing industry. Will he use it?
For years, local fishermen in the UK have been left struggling. Constrained by the amount of fish they’re allowed to catch (quota), they’ve seen their livelihoods all but disappear. In turn, their local communities have suffered, the future of their children has become uncertain and centuries old traditions are being lost forever.
The quota system in the UK is ridiculous. Two thirds of quota is given to just three companies. So while local fishermen have to bring their boats back in, ships belonging to these multinational companies stay out at sea taking more and more fish. This is a concern for small-scale fishermen and for the environment. Why? Well small-scale, local fishermen tend to fish using the most environmentally-friendly practices. They understand that to make a long-term profit in this industry, you have to work with nature. They respect the ocean and the marine environment.
So how did we get to this point? Well if you were to ask George Eustice a few months ago, he would’ve blamed the EU. An avid Leave campaigner, he told fishermen that if we leave, we will ‘have the power to deliver the change our fishing industry and marine environment so craves.’ The thing is, Eustice has always had that power. Because fishing quota within the UK is decided by the UK government. By him. And now he has no excuse not to transform the UK’s fishing industry and, specifically, the unjust quota system.
When the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was reformed, pretty big improvements were made. A key one being the introduction of criteria for deciding who gets what quota. According to the reformed CFP, quota has to be decided on social, environmental and economic criteria. So while we’re leaving the EU and presumably leaving the CFP, this aspect of the CFP should be maintained. In fact, it should be put into practice. Because so far Eustice isn’t using any criteria in allocating quota. He’s just maintaining the status quo by giving two thirds of quota to just three companies.
Come on George, it’s time for a fishing policy that champions local fishermen, reinvigorates our coastal communities and maintains healthy fish stocks.