Brexit brings an end to the Common Fisheries Policy’s bloodsports
Animal lovers should be delighted the UK is leaving the European Union. The UK’s farmers and fishermen tend to abide by the rules. What kind of reaction would there be if British farmers adopted the French habit of force-feeding geese to make foie gras? In 2013 it emerged that Spanish farmers were getting cash under the Common Agricultural Policy to rear bulls for bullfighting.
The latest news from Theresa May’s Brexit folder is that she’ll take Britain out of the Common Fisheries Policy. That’s the agreement that allows European fishing vessels to access waters six to twelve nautical miles from British shores.
The EU says the Common Fisheries Policy aims to ensure that fishing is “environmentally, economically and socially sustainable”. But the quotas, agreed under Ted Heath’s Tory government, allowed Britain’s fishermen 13 per cent by value of the new “common resource”. This led to the depletion of Britain’s fishing feet and the hideous fact that fishermen were forced on pain of law to return to the sea millions of dead fish for which they had no quota.
In 2015 fishermen targeting certain demersal species such as haddock, sole and plaice were told to “land all their catch”. From 01 January 2019, vessels of all gear types will have to land all catches of quota species and count the landings against quota. And: “Non-quota species such as gurnards, lobsters or pipefish can continue to be discarded. Prohibited species will have to be discarded.”
The landed fish – which the fisherman has caught and brought to land at no small effort and cost – can then be used as…landfill.
As for the alternative – and it’s hard to think of a worse one than throwing away tonnes of fish – the BBC notes, a 2016 House of Commons Library paper suggests the UK could allow foreign vessels to fish in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – “Outside the EU, an EEZ extends 200 nautical miles (370km) off a country’s coastline, giving the state the authority to exploit and control the fish resources within this zone.”
Over to you, Theresa…