Join the fight to dump Europe’s fishing policies

From: Derek Clark MEP
Published: Tue Jun 07 2011

The campaign to fight the policy of discarding fish – many dead – back into the sea has been backed by Boston’s MEP.

UKIP’s Derek Clark has supported the push to dump the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

Only last week, UKIP leader Nigel Farage met with campaigner and broadcaster Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, of the Fish Fight Campaign outside the European Parliament.

Mr Farage, a keen sea angler and member of the Fisheries Committee said: "Hugh has done great work in highlighting the issue of discards - sadly however the Commission has talked a lot but produced no substantial change."

He said the EU fishing policy robbed fishermen in every nation of responsibility for their own waters.

Mr Clark, who spoke in the European Parliament about discarding fish in April, echoed Mr Farage’s comments. He said: "We need to stop discarding fish. It’s lunacy.

"Our fleet has been halved in the past 18 years – at the same time our waters are full of Spanish fishermen throwing fish caught in our waters overboard.

"This policy is ridiculous and yet again the UK suffers at the hands of EU bureaucracy and unfair dictates.

"UK fishermen had carefully looked after fish stocks in our own territorial waters, while others had ruined theirs by over fishing.

"In my own region, the East Midlands, the fishermen of Boston have fished the Wash for generations, looking after the fish stocks making sure that their trawl nets do not disturb the sea bed.

"Now they are forbidden to fish on the pretext that their trawls damage the bottom, meanwhile a Dutch vessel is licenced to hoover up a million tons of gravel from the same sea bed.

"How much longer will these fishermen be forced to stand by and watch their rich fishing grounds reduced to nothing while they are reduced to benefit claimants?"

The Fish Fight campaign is gathering pace with celebrities across Europe joining Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall.

EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "Fish Fight has a great power and I am grateful to the people who support it and understand that we cannot go with business as usual.

"This is not an option anymore, for the simple reason that fish stocks are decreasing. We need a real change - to fish less and earn more and we can do that through a better management of our fish stocks and for instance avoiding discards."

The European Commission is currently finalising its proposals for a thorough reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy and the issue of discarding is a key element in the coming reform. The Commissioner expects to present her proposals for the new policy in July.
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