Will the UK government be a progressive voice on fisheries?

Posted by Ariana Densham — 13 July 2011 at 3:50pm - Comments
Fish in a net
All rights reserved. Credit: Alex Hofford / Greenpeace
Tonight Greenpeace and partners outline proposals for the CFP at the event The Future of EU Fisheries

The day those of us in fish world have been waiting for is upon us. Today the European Commission officially launched its proposals for a new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and finally we'll find out if Europe intends to meet its targets to recover our decimated fish stocks, or bend to the same political pressures of its 40 year history and failing put the environment first.

Over 70% of European fish stocks are now overfished and 90% of large predatory species have been fished out. Despite this, we've the largest and most powerful fishing fleet to date, chasing the last 10 per cent remaining fish. What a dire situation to be in.

The UK government has promised us the greenest government to date, and our fisheries minister Richard Benyon has promised us "radical reform" of the CFP. Tonight, at a special event organised by the UK’s leading marine NGOs, Benyon will give his official reaction to the Commission’s proposals.

Will this be a recognition that the recovery of European fish stocks must be at the heart of these proposals, and that the UK needs to lead the way in Europe? Or will this be a missed opportunity once again?

Speakers include Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, along with representatives from the artisanal fishing industry and campaigning organisations such as Greenpeace, WWF, RSPB and more. The event will also be filmed for the fourth episode of Hugh's Fish Fight, to be aired at the start of August.

In a twist of fate, the Commission’s proposal and this special event come just days before the UK’s Fish Dependence Day: Saturday 16 June represents the date on which the UK would run out of fish if we only ate what we caught in our seas. Because our waters are so overfished, from this date on we would have to rely on imports to meet demand after only six months and 16 days of the year.

What a timely and stark reminder about the rampant overfishing that's taken place in Europe’s seas, and how important it is that our new fishing policy addresses this. Today represents the beginning of a long process of reform that will be significantly influenced by our government, if it chooses to be progressive and ambitious.

On a more positive note, as a result of Fish Fight and the attention brought to the wasteful practice of discarding fish, we do know the new CFP package will propose initial measures to start reducing and preventing this waste. Thanks must go to Hugh and his people for bringing this issue firmly onto the public and political agenda. We all recognise, however, that addressing discards will not fix a broken CFP and the wider problem of overfishing must be tackled.

So please do check out the joint position paper on the new CFP from the UK’s leading marine NGOs, log on to the live blog and feed and look out for our joint press release available once the Commission has made its proposals public.

Find out more about Greenpeace's work on oceans and overfishing:

About Ariana

I’m Ariana and I’m an campaigner in the Oceans team at Greenpeace UK.  

interested? Follow me on twitter @arianadensham


Other posts by this author

Follow Greenpeace UK