Thursday, 28 October 2010


Like an anchovy on your pizza? Enjoy them today because if some people have their way they will be gone forever tomorrow.

I cannot understand why some supporters of fishermen think their best interests will be served by wiping out the fish stocks upon which the fishing industry depends, but I suppose it takes all sorts. Still, this is for once a good news story, so read on.

The Bay of Biscay anchovy fishery has been reopened after a 5-year closure imposed because stocks were dangerously low. Now the European Commission wants to put in place a long term management plan and prevent any repeat of the annual political haggling that has caused so much harm in the past. Based on scientific assessments, it has proposed that no more than 30% of total stocks should be caught in any one year. Seems a lot to me but the Commission claims the level will help keep stocks high.

"Not enough," say some MEPs, unfortunately led on the Fisheries Committee by one of my own ALDE Group colleagues, a lady from Spain's Basque country: "We want to catch 40% of total stocks each year, and if scientists warn of dangers we want to have to reduce the catch by only 10%, and not by the 25% proposed," they argue. It will hardly come as a surprise that the Commission warns that such measures would significantly increase the risk to the survival of fish stocks.

The Fisheries Committee voted this week, and the alternative proposals were defeated 12-10. The ALDE Group has 3 members on the committee; my other two colleagues tilted the balance by voting in favour of the Commission's plans and against the attempt to establish an unsustainable policy.

But just what were the other 10 MEPs doing when they voted for ruinous measures? Why don't they get it?

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