David Levy – The people who draw salaries but deliver nothing – Sep 15

Stephen and I recently attended an ESRC funded Symposium on Marine Conservation Governance organised under the banner of University of Bristol, titled: “MPAs and beyond”.

I also want to combine my summary of this symposium with a response we got from the Pew Trust which replied to details and questions which we addressed to the Trust about the reformed Common Fisheries Policy and the implementation and management of MCZsMCZ Marine Conservation Zone in UK waters.

My summary can be made in a short sentence and you could well say that this brevity is somewhat arrogant of me but the truth is that, in both instances, there is a common theme.

In both cases, the reality is that the people who are involved in making decisions and presenting the current situation facing the marine environment are doing so as part of what was, at first, a “cottage industry” but which has now become mainstream business.

These people are taking salaries, exploring endless dead-end areas of research and data gathering, whilst ignoring the solutions to the problems which they are meant to be examining . . . . and the conclusion is — their responses fail to address either the urgency of the current situation or the solutions which could solve it.

In the case of the Pew Trust, all of the answers provided to us simply demonstrated the flaws, not the remedies, in the system of CFP data gathering — and this fundamentally highlights that quotas are being given based on poor and inadequate data.

At every stage in the reform of the CFP the design is faulty, and so much of the management remains in the hands of the industry which has led the CFP to the brink of collapse. This clearly shows to me that successive DEFRA Ministers and the Ministry have presided over a management structure that has failed us.

By us I mean the public, the people of the UK and, almost controversially, the marine environment and its ecosystem.

Fishing quotas can be landed anywhere, and there is no co-ordination across Europe which involves a central agency which monitors quota versus landings. As I have said in the past, it is the lawless Wild West out there, and this is after reform.

Going back to the symposium, many of those who believe they are “the voice” of this problem were about ten when Marinet started writing articles about the decline of the marine environment.

They speak with authority about the need for marine reserves and delivering data, but they miss entirely the need for change.

I can only reflect that if we had closed the seas around the UK and European waters when we started debating reform then, according to Callum Roberts of the University of York, we would now have abundant stocks of fish which would be a truly genuine basis for delivering sound management and fish food security.

Meanwhile the reality is that management is insufficient, the urgency needed is non-existent, the fraud over real change is rampant, and those who should know better settle for their salary . . . . and a constant round of exploring dead-end consultations and plaster-sticking over the mortal wounds.

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