9. During the course of our inquiry, several important
developments occurred which kept fishing policy in the media spotlight.
In November 2004, in an extremely important step for the progressive
regionalisation of the Common Fisheries Policy, the first Regional
Advisory Council (RAC) was established for the North Sea. Its
first meeting was widely regarded as a success. We discuss RACs
in greater detail below (paras. 152-163).
10. In December 2004, another report on fishing policy,
Turning the Tide, was published by the Royal Commission
on Environmental Pollution. The report focussed on the impact
of fishing on the marine environment. It received a considerable
amount of media attention, largely due to its controversial recommendation
that a network of marine protected areas should be established,
which would result in "30% of the UK's exclusive economic
zone being established as no-take reserves closed to commercial
Unsurprisingly, the recommendation provoked a huge outcry from
many in the fishing industry. It was denounced as "outdated
madness", "codswallop" and resulting from "tunnel-vision".
11. Later the same month, fishing was once again
high on the media agenda, in the run-up to the annual Fisheries
Council meeting in Brussels, at which the Total Allowable Catch
(TAC) quotas are set for the forthcoming year. Despite the UK
industry's initial pessimism, the Government was able to negotiate
what was largely considered a successful deal for UK fishermen.
The European Commission was persuaded to abandon plans to close
key cod fishing grounds in the North Sea, off the west coast of
Scotland and in the Irish Sea. The Government also prevented further
limits being imposed on the number of days for which UK vessels
may stay at sea.