EU ministers vote for reform of the fishing industry

Greenpeace quota win

Small-scale fishermen and Greenpeace yesterday celebrated a great victory after European ministers voted on what campaigners are calling ‘bold and sweeping reform, dedicated to bringing Europe’s fish stocks back to sustainable levels after decades of overfishing’.

The victory – and it seems to be a big one – follows long months of campaigning and a very hard time for inshore fishermen.

As well as limiting fishing overall and boosting quotas for sustainable inshore fishing, the changes include a measure to reduce discards, the wasteful practice of throwing unwanted dead or dying fish overboard.

However, the campaign can’t be called off yet – the proposal still has to get through the European Parliament and the European Council next year.

Read more on this story here.

At last some good news. I don’t know about you, but I might just be beginning to feel a little more Christmassy…

The Last Fisherman – a chance to try to prevent fishing from disappearing from our coasts

The blokes in this film make a powerful point; small-scale fishing around our coasts is in danger.

As so often in life, the quotas have somehow landed in the hands of the right and powerful, and now those who fish in a small-scale and sustainable way are going bust, and something has to change. Sign Greenpeace’s petition here.

Here’s what Greenpeace has to say about the film:

‘This film was born out of numerous visits to low impact fishermen all over the English coast, whom we’ve been working with closely this year. We made it to give these fishermen, who use sustainable methods, a chance to tell their story, in their own words.

‘The one consistent theme that kept emerging on our visits was this: their future, and the future of our fish stocks, is under real threat. European and domestic fishing laws favour the most powerful parts of the European fishing industry, often with the highest environmental impact, while shutting out those who fish in the right way.’

There’s also this little campaign song to consider:

PS – This article on the same topic appeared in The Guardian

PPS – Fishing communities seem to be under threat in Ireland as well as all round our shores. Rower, boat builder and sustainability expert Osbert Lancaster has been in touch to point out that the Scottish Crofting Federation has just issued a study of two communities on Barra and ArranmoreConnecting Coastal Communities.

Here’s the SCF’s blurb:

‘On both islands the fishermen believe that their livelihood and way of living is being threatened by powerful institutions who are not listening to them. On Barra the dispute centres around proposals by the Scottish Government’s nature conservation body, Scottish Natural Heritage, to designate two European marine conservation areas in waters off the island (one of which, at the time of writing in June 2012, has already been approved for designation by the Scottish Government while the other awaits a decision). Meanwhile on the Donegal islands, including Arranmore the dispute is about the Irish Government’s moratorium on drift-net fishing for salmon and on what the islanders feel are crippling restrictions that have been placed on their ability to to fish with nets in their local waters.’

Kipperman Mike Smylie has been campaigning on this issue for years. See his website here.