Steve Beasant

Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Great Grimsby and Councillor for the East Marsh Learn more

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Tough fish fight ahead warns Chris Davies

by Steve Beasant on 8 August, 2011

The battle to reform Europe’s common fisheries policy and end the practice of discarding unwanted fish will be tough and hard, an MEP deeply involved in the campaign has warned.

TV Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall highlights again today (Monday) in his Channel 4 ‘Fish Fight’ programme the damage that current policies are causing to the world’s seas.

He has welcomed proposals recently announced by the European Commission for major reforms to put fishing on a sustainable basis and allow fish stocks to recover.

But Liberal Democrat MEP for North West England Chris Davies, the founder of the ‘Fish for the Future’ group in the European Parliament, fears that fishermen may prove to be the strongest opponents of change.

He says that all MEPs have already been told that French fishing interests are building a pan-European network to lobby against the proposals, and that representatives of Scottish fishermen claim that ending the discard of fish is not ‘realistic’.

Short term thinking without regard to the long term consequences for fish stocks in our oceans is destroying fish stocks across the planet, he warns.

Chris Davies said: “We have at last a European Commissioner who understands that if there are no fish there can be no fishermen, and who is determined to make changes.

“Fishermen need to understand that a fishing industry that regards it as acceptable to kill fish and then discard them is neither moral nor sustainable. We have to do things differently.”

Major commercial interests were behind much of the lobbying against change, he claimed, with 80% of fishermen using small boats responsible for catching only 10% of the fish.

“A small minority of companies own the big vessels that cause the real damage. They are the ones who will lose financially in the short term by a change in policy.”

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