Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Its great when people with a high public profile use it well to bring important issues into the public eye. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall did just that when he put his weight behind FishFight, and its making real headway, hurrah!
Today Commissioner Damanaki announced proposals for the new Common Fisheries Policy, setting a framework for EU fisheries management after 2012. To be honest, the top lines I caught on the news as I was doing my usual dash through the morning routine left me wondering whether it was going to be a disaster.
Repeatedly all I heard was the intention to get rid of quotas, to stop the utterly shameful waste of edible fish. That bit of the news is fantastic, and I am sure will be universally applauded.
But although quotas are a blunt instrument, an uncontrolled free for all caused our fish stocks to crash in the first place. And what about the bycatch of non-edible species, like seabirds and turtles?
Was that being forgotten or had I just missed it as I hared around walking the dogs, packing lunches and the like? Fortunately, it was the latter – when I had a chance to look for more detail, there was encouraging news, particularly the intention to rebuild stocks by 2015, and the intention to base future fisheries management decisions on scientific advice.
So we largely welcome today’s announcement. Though it still falls short on detail. And the devil is always in the detail.... We need the framework, we need to know how the overcapacity of the fleet will be reduced, and to see a genuine shift towards ecologically sustainable fisheries. An ecologically sustainable fishery is not just about the fish – they need a healthy, balanced environment to live in, with seals, seabirds, and seaweed too. We finally have legislation that promises Marine Protected Areas, and we are continuing to fight for these to be put in the right places, with the right management. You can help us by signing our seabird pledge. Did I mention the pledge before? I did? Ah well, some readers may not have done it yet. So now's the time....