Last week I read a very interesting article by South Devon fisherman Chris Venmore. Chris and I went to the same school in the South Hams rather longer ago than I care to remember and he is very much the voice of Devon's shell fishermen but he wrote the aforementioned article in a personal capacity.
It's no surprise that Chris isn't exactly a cheerleader for the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). As he states in the first paragraph "British and other EU fishermen are being forced to throw away an estimated two million tonnes (yes, two million tonnes) of fish every year." Bearing in mind the hunger in this world, not to mention the need to make fishing a viable industry this discarding of prime edible fish is totally, utterly obscene. Unfortunately fishing as an occupation, like farming, is something the great majority of us never think about but of course we should. As long as we can still get cod and chips at the local takeaway then everything is OK it seems.
Following the observation about the dead fish being thrown back into the sea to rot and to pollute our waters with the threat to fishermen of a £50,000 fine if they fail to do so Chris then goes on to remind us of the sorry history of the CFP from when we joined the then EEC right up to the present day. He points out just how galling it is for our local fishermen having reached their quota to see French and Belgian vessels as close as six miles from our shores taking what we would regard as our fish.
Chris discusses "Quota Hoppers", boats from other EU states that register as British and then go ahead to fish against our quota. Another point raised is that of the EU making third party agreements with certain African countries to allow mainly Spanish boats to fish in their waters. The trouble that results is that those particular states find they are unable to stop the vessels from plundering the stocks of fish to deprive the local fishermen of both their income and their main source of protein.
Whatever one's views of the EU (and I find fishing aside that there is much that is wrong) there is no doubt that something drastic has to be done - killing off the CFP wouldn't be a bad idea.
Thanks Chris for your thought provoking article; every MP and MEP should read it.