David Levy – George Eustice MP/Minister – Hero or Unmitigated Rogue? – Jan 16

Well, he is back from Brussels and brandishing increases in quota and a better deal for our fishing communities.

George Eustice is returned from the latest round of TAC allocations1 with this message of having secured a great deal for this country. I smell the odour of Cameron’s renegotiation with Europe in this communiqué.

From Europe’s perspective, it’s an easy ‘give’ because once analysed by the New Economics Foundation any breach in the reformed Common Fisheries laws will see the UK as being guilty of the excesses, not Europe.

There is something that is uncomfortable in receiving quotas that increase catch when the overall picture is one of degradation across the board.

The truth is that an over-population of fishing craft in Europe has not been properly assessed.

The quota does not reside in the hands of the fishing communities which get value for each fish caught. Instead it is often in the hands of £ multi-million companies, often holding quota from several countries at once. That is where the quota goes, and it is not a coincidence that these are the industry leaders who have run foul of the law when caught — which is not as frequent as it should be.

Somewhere a decision was made to flout the law, and the consequences have made that decision a sound financial choice. Poor retribution, inadequate fines, and what amounts to a slap on the wrists. That is the reality of the way our system protects the wrong doer.

So this New Year of 2016 starts with a worrying increase in fisheries catch. In all dealings with the fishing professional bodies, it remains clear that they are still unable to accept their failure that they were responsible on their watch for collapsing the UK’s fisheries to dangerously low levels of stock.

This has led to complicated management controls such as MSY (maximum sustainable yield). Understood only by the bureaucrats and those who require wriggle room to exploit the situation, MSY is an anathema to the NGO Movement, not its salvation.

I look forward to the sterling work being done by the New Economics Foundation.

Happy New Year of 2016
David Levy

1 (Total Allowable Catch, or fishing ‘quota’)

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