David Levy – Pragmatic versus Aspirational Outcomes – Apr16

Marinet was recently approached by the PEW Trust to review PEW’s recent contribution to the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and similar reform of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund’s (EMFF) subsidies and PEW’s support for Oceans 2012.

In replying, I sought to ascertain what were the purposes behind this review, and found out that the people conducting the review had been commissioned by PEW America to reflect on and evaluate PEW Europe’s contribution.

It pleased me that this reflection by PEW on its past performance was taking place for two major reasons. Firstly, in this country it is common practice to just stagger from one situation to another without a review. My statement is open to challenge by any of our UK NGOs, but take our NGO performance on the MCZMCZ Marine Conservation Zone coherent network as an example.

Secondly, I believe there exists a fundamental difference between the UK and the USA, and that difference is about accountability and outcomes. Americans aim high, and expect success. In the UK we are more pragmatic, and that can lead to under-achievement.

In speaking to PEW’s reviewer, Marinet wanted to set the record straight as we saw it.

Stephen made a cogent reflection on the failures of the reformed CFP. He highlighted the abandonment of the law embodied in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) by Government and the NGO Movement. That abandonment of the MSFD is one of the principal reasons why Marinet has concluded that the CFP reform process initiated by Government was “designed to fail” and, just as importantly, because NGOs operate almost unanimously on the basis of charitable status, with their finances restricted by charitable law and their campaigning similarly so, the Government got their own way.

This reveals the naivety of NGOs, their complicit nature towards power and their role as to change.

The construction of Oceans 2012 was to collect together the logos of its members to give the impression of a persuasive body in the arena of CFP reform. Unfortunately, this assembly of organisations was always only ever as strong as whatever it was they could all agree upon.

In other words, the LCD (the lowest common denominator) approach of campaigning.

So Oceans 2012 was an umbrella organisation and the epitome of under-achievement, funded by a Trust that wanted results.

Whoever designed this situation was designing it to fail from its conception.

PEW has the ability to fund success, but it has already lost the best opportunity available during the reform of the CFP and European Marine Subsidies (EMFF).

So PEW has a fundamental question to ask itself. Does PEW still wish to be involved in the European arena, and to influence change and to support the implementation of the MSFD?

If the answer to this is “yes”, then what does Marinet recommend for the outcomes to be more aspirational?

The existing body of the NGO movement is tainted, and building a structure on them is tantamount to building on quicksand. It will swallow effort and be unable to effect either sound judgement or deliver aspirational outcomes.

To arrive at an understanding of the issues, it is essential that PEW supports the work of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and their conclusions.

This work by NEF is currently being lost in the realms of academia.

The answer is to build a bridge between NEF and a legal body, such as Client Earth, and so raise the only spectre that Government fears — a legal challenge.

This takes resources and courage, but the condition of the marine world will not change until these types of challenge are met by NGOs and those outside Government.

This is a role for the PEW Trust to consider.

Currently PEW, the NGO lobby and pragmatists have to deal with Government for the next ten years before marine matters are once again re-addressed by the CFP.

Therefore in this ten year period it is essential that a real challenge is mounted which includes reviewing the persistent illegality by all Marine Ministers of State of awarding fishing quotas outside of scientific advice. In addition, it is essential that this challenge applies to every shore based fishing fleet in Europe. Furthermore, we must focus in particular on challenging the UK which lands the highest tonnage of fish caught outside the limits regarded as ecologically safe by expert scientific advice.

This reality and these important facts are going wholly unchallenged at the present time.

It remains equally unclear who could bring a legal case forward to resolve this illegality.

I ask, is there anyone with the aspiration and the resources to meet this vital challenge?

David Levy.
Chair, Marinet.


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