David Levy – Money lies at the root of fishing’s evils – Mar 2013

The jigsaw puzzle which is reforming the fishing industry will always be hidden from our eyes because of the money involved.

With subsidies and quotas, this industry generates close to £1 billion each year – and this money is in the hands of a few powerful men. This potential wealth attracts criminal elements too – remember the illegal landings by some Scottish fishermen which netted them over £60 million and which was punished by a fine and the confiscation of fishing gear.

That they sold their quota afterwards just compounds the success of greed. It was a very successful operation. Who props up this façade?

Quotas are given out by Government, but the Government doesn’t do so fairly. Our inshore fishermen fish sustainably in the main, but they only get 5% of the quota. Meanwhile the other, largely offshore fleets manage to stay at sea by means of fuel subsidies. . . . so they are in a win-win situation. They can only make money, and more of it, because the system props them up.

When will a light be shone on this money mountain ? Without this light, change will never happen. Our fishermen need to become not catchers, but protective policemen of marine reserves whilst fish stocks recover. In this country we can protect our fish stocks, but we don’t. We blame not ourselves, but the French or the Spanish instead.

I blame the money.

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