David Levy – Where does change come from in the marine world? – Mar 2014

Where does change come from?

It comes from within.

I have observed the way Marinet is considered by others. The way we are treated, and how we are perceived by others to fit into the marine world.

As Marinet’s chair I have been truly shocked that we, a group who genuinely wants to engage, to come up with the solutions and to work with other parties on the major marine problems, is blackballed and side-lined.

And when I reached the conclusion that our parent organisation has been guilty of this too, almost from our inception, I have been left with little option but to seek change for us, or to leave and give up.

You all know that we are engaged with fundamental change in order to tackle serious, deep-running problems in the marine world, and it will be a challenge. Indeed, in the light of independence, we have already started to think about new partners and campaigns that have some chance of delivery.

I am convinced that our success will revolve around membership involvement. And the more motivated and numerous our members are, the more likelihood there is of solutions being found.

The issues are complicated, but the solutions do not have to be.

DEFRA, because it is a bureaucracy, spends an age calling for evidence and then delivers that which the majority can agree on, not what is necessary.

How can I say this with such clarity?

The current crop of marine management reforms had as a starting point a collapse in fish stock stability, over-fishing and a climate of criminality across Europe funded by subsidies and an over-capacity in fleet size.

The politicians have had their chance to deliver reform, but it has all been too little to effect change. The promise of legal action against those who flaunt reform is a dream. The history of abuse is legion, whilst the existence of a will to prosecute with its legal case load is distinctly sparse.

The reform process is now over. Our call for subsidy reform met with little support from those who should have. Why did we get that reaction? I am convinced that the NGO movement has been castrated through their attachment to charitable status, and government is more than happy with this state of affairs.

Marinet has to change, and has to find a new way to pressure bureaucracy for solutions. Engaging with the public is traditionally the source of NGO power. We have to somehow re-engage with the public, and to demonstrate to them that they do have this ability provided that they believe in it.

David Levy
Marinet Chair

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