EU fisheries proposals may bring calmer waters for UK fishermen

Wednesday’s publication of the European Commission’s Green Paper on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) provides a long-awaited opportunity for a radical overhaul of a management regime that has had a ruinous impact on UK fisheries, Sir Robert Atkins MEP, said today.

Sir Robert says that under the CFP our fishermen have seen 60% of the UK whitefish fleet scrapped and thousands of jobs destroyed, despite the fact that the core objectives of the CFP written into the EU treaty were aimed at preserving and protecting fish stocks and maintaining and enhancing jobs in the fishing industry.

The Green Paper includes opportunities to devolve fisheries management out of Brussels and down to the stakeholders in the various fishing zones. Sir Robert has argued that decisions should be taken out of the hands of Brussels ‘desk jockeys’ and given to the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) so that more tailored decisions can be made, in consultation with fishermen rather than through Brussels diktats.

Sir Robert said:

“Fifty years of micro-management from the ivory towers of Brussels has led to shattered fish stocks and broken livelihoods. Quota cuts, TAC (Total Allowable Catch) restrictions, de-commissioning schemes, lay-offs, tie-ups, emergency closures and redundancies have decimated swathes of our fishing fleet.

“The arrival of the Green Paper and the chance for meaningful consultation with the fisheries sector and the general public will hopefully bring a new era of calmer waters ahead. This paper represents the most dramatic overhaul of fisheries management since the CFP was born and is a clear indication that the commission now accepts that micro-management by Eurocrats in Brussels has failed.

“This is the Last Chance Saloon for our fishermen. The level of reform needed in the CFP is dramatic.”

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