Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Fishermen's Association Limited (T3)

CFP REVIEW (Some thoughts)

  The Commission, have recently produced a Green Paper. It gives the impression in some instances that they will surrender their solemn and legally binding obligation of being the guardian of the Treaties for something less onerous than the Treaties demand.

  It's a fiction which they themselves expose, even with their most careful choice of language, and which they hope will escape our attention. "While at the same time", they say "ensuring that fisheries governance remains compatible with the legal and institutional framework of the Treaty, and that it does not affect the Global and Community character of the Common Fisheries Policy".

  Exactly! The Commission as the custodian of the Treaties is the very last body on earth, which would set in motion the process of dismantling them. Only the unbelievably naïve or those anxious to Make excuses for the destruction of the British fleet, could possibly give credence to such an absurd proposition.

  The "European Court of Justice" has been described by one of its members as a Court "with a mission", which means that it is driven by the political objectives of the Treaties. It is required above all else to pursue the process of "European integration", irrespective of the misery which may result, and so must be vigilant in ensuring that the real CFP of "Equal Access to a Common Resource" is eventually enforced. This is part of the acquis communautaire, which is binding on all members. It is not negotiable.

  Do not be surprised therefore, when the Commission next refers to these crucial issues, if the mask has dropped, and the stark reality of ruin and destruction stares our fishermen in the face. So much for the Green Paper!

  The current review of the "CFP" will assist in the policy of creating a single federal EU fleet.

  The fleet will be managed by the Commission in line with the single market based on a licensing system operated by the Commission.

  To prevent excess capacity appearing or re-appearing after capacity is cut Licence fees will be charged for the right to fish. They will also cover the costs of management and will help to produce the budget for fleet restructuring and community assistance. In 1994 Commission issued a CFP booklet in which they stated that they were "preparing for policies that will follow when in principle access to almost all the Community's fishing areas will be open to any EC vessel. One possibility of reconciling free access to limited resources is the use of licences controlling the scale of fishing that may take place".

  Regionalisation as supported by the House of Lords is a pretence for delegated management. The Commission will not devolve any real power to Zonal Committees except those established to manage fisheries in the six and 12 mile limits where access will probably continue to be restricted for the benefit of the indigenous fleets. Whether that will continue in the next review of the CFP is problematical.

  Outwith these areas the restructured EU fleet will operate within EU and Third Country waters based on a global Multi Annual strategy where every aspect of the policy is closely integrated and controlled from Brussels. But probably initially through the agency of each maritime Member State.

  While the principle of Relative Stability may be used to share the stocks after 2002, the distribution keys will be adjusted in such a way so as to disadvantage certain national fleets.

  The Galician Working Document of 12 April 2000 "Towards a Community System of Individual Rights" and the subsequent announcement by the Spanish Chairman of the European Parliaments Fisheries Committee regarding access for Spanish fishermen to the North See are examples of the declared aim to strengthen the competences of the EU Commission and the centralising of the Community decision making process.

  As the intention is to have an EU fleet the protection afforded by the Shetland Box will be difficult to retain for the UK fleet and the local community dependent on this protected area.

  There will be an extension of closed sea areas ostensibly to aid resource recovery.

  Environmental pressure groups will prevent the introduction of an effective grey seal population management programme arguing that this is not necessary for a sustainable and responsible contribution to conservation of fisheries. However the integration of environmental objectives will continue to lead to restrictions on fishing effort which combined with the reinforcement of the MAGP will aid in achieving the purpose of a single EU fleet.

  The cod recovery plan for the North Sea is forcing fishermen to fish in areas they would not fish at this time of year. The result is wiping out the young haddock, whiting and prime saithe.

  The Northern European fleets are being driven to an uneconomic situation.

  That fleet must go to make room for the Southern and future Members from Eastern Europe. It's all part of the acquis communautaire.

  What happens in 2003?

  The Sandeel fishing which is essentially uncontrolled is being investigated. It will probably be subject to restrictions. So stock rebuilding starts with the food source given protection.

  The Permit system will have a complementary system of tradable permits. This will satisfy the Banks. They will force their customers to sell their vessels permits and with Spain and Holland having the money Danish and British fishermen are removed from the scene.

  Is it too far fetched to suggest that to achieve the aim of political integration the price doesn't matter. A declining stock under the banner of conservation is an ideal way to bring it about. So, destroy the environment, blame the fishermen and you are beginning to achieve your goal. The problem for the Commission is that fishermen have proved to be more resilient than they thought and Mother Nature more fickle. So the conservation measures have to be more extreme as time runs out to 2003.

25 April 2001

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