The Common Fishery Policy


               I have always opposed the Common Fishing Policy. I always thought it was bad for consumers, bad for fishermen and bad for the fish. The discard policy was especially crass, forcing the return of large numbers of dead fish to the sea in the name of conservation. It was always aimed at allowing others to raid our fishing grounds, but did not give the UK similar rights in southern waters.

               Yesterday under the excellent new backbench business arrangements we held a debate on it, and passed a motion urging reform. I have lost count of how many times I and other critics of the scheme have called for change. The good news is we hear that at last, after nearly 40 years of injustice and folly, the EU is considering reform. It is still a matter of doubt whetehr they will come up with anything worthwhile, but those who follow these things  will doubtless be pleased that the UK Parliament did do its duty yesterday on  this issue.


  1. lifelogic
    May 13, 2011

    On past performance I would not expect much to come of it. What about CAP and all the other EU nonsense, and over regulation in every area and direction one cares to look. All wasting so much time, effort and money and thus ensuring that EU industry remains uncompetitive in world markets – thus destroying jobs though out the EU.

  2. alan jutson
    May 13, 2011

    Well its a move in the right direction and I welcome your sensible contribution, but the real problem is the EU management to which we have agreed.

    If we were not under the cosh of the EU regulation and legislation, and still governed ourselves, then this stupid policy would never have been set out in the first place. Never know but we may have still had a fishing industry of some size, the price of fish may be lower, and stocks higher.

  3. Stuart Fairney
    May 13, 2011

    So your definition of a sovereign parliament doing its duty is to beg our European masters to have a rethink? A welcome change yes, but really no more than the impotent lamentations of a bunch of eunuchs.

  4. Andy Baxter
    May 13, 2011

    When ohh WHEN are you and others of your ilk, suppos’ed cONSERVATIVES going to be truthful and honest with the electorate and tell us straight that we are ruled by the EU in almost every aspect of our governance, and that Parliament (the mother of the constitutions of Canada, the USA, NZ, Australia, India et al) is as pointless as a eunoch in a hareem….

    And you must know in your heart of hearts Mr Redwood that nothing short of coming out of this political construct will ever change the mision creep loss of sovereignty we have experienced ever since we signed up to the ‘Common Market’ back in 1975.

    Why do you continue with the farce of meetings, debates, motions and all the other claptrap nonsense when you know in your soul that the EU will never listen or give up the power it has sequestred piece by piece over decades.

    you (and I mean by ‘you’ collectively the political class within Westminster) are so out of touch with the reality of whats happening on the ground of the streets , the blogosphere and the cafes and bars of Britain (just like the donkeys of Generals in WWI were with the PBI in the trenches)

    the huge debt (which this coalition is still accruing, borrowing up by 7.4% in March) and mismanagement of our economy, the handing over of gargantuan sums of money to a corrupt construct that has never had its accounts signed off EVER! would you hand over money to such an organisation in the private sector? No course not but ‘you’ still do, the bail outs of Greece, Ireland and next Portgual and eventually Spain of taxpayers money to support a political entity the Euro of which we are not even a part of! the human rights legislation that serves the interests of the selfish, the failed criminal justice system, the common fisheries policy, the common agricultuaral policy, the mindless HSE directives, and all the other ‘competencies’ the EU lays claim over are the source of most of the ills we face today.

    and we pay for all this nonsense via ever higher direct and indirect taxes and fines and bullying…..

    I have news for ‘you’ and it would be in your interests to listen and take heed, for if you do not then your ilk will be swept away on a tsunami of political will so strong it will shake the foundations of our nation: there is a force building within Britain that will become unstoppable, it has been seeking solace and outlet in attempting to find its voice and identity within the blogosphere for years now, the underlying sense of anger the frustration the utter contempt that is felt for the political elite and their abject failure to represent the wishes of the electorate and their disconnected sense of ‘divine right’ sense of entitlement to rule us little people has found a voice and an identity at last…

    it will build now and exponentially and thus from little acorns doth mighty oaks grow……

    watch out Mr Redwood watch out its coming…….

    Reply: Why attack me when I voted No in the EEC referendum, and now spend time highlighting the power grab in Parliament.

    1. Dave
      May 13, 2011

      Mr Redwood: I draw your attention to the phrase “and I mean by ‘you’ collectively the political class within Westminster”. Don’t take offensc, I expect this man has holding back this outburst for a while.

  5. Kevin Howard
    May 13, 2011

    I am afraid it’s too little far too late John. The common fishery policy should have been scrapped years ago. It has ruined communities, families who relied on the sea for their living, indeed it has ruined whole towns, like Fleetwood and Hull. These places have had to diversify into other forms of industry.
    I am afraid if this policy was changed to benefit this country it has come far too late for us to take benefit from it.

    1. Alte Fritz
      May 14, 2011

      And when I last visited Fleetwood, it looked like a town with a wonderful future behind it. The CFP was a tragedy.

  6. Paul H
    May 13, 2011

    So the UK Parliament did its duty and passed a motion urging reform. I agree with the cause, but did you realise how succinctly you were summing up the powerlessness of the parliament in the face of the EU executive?

  7. Mr. Green
    May 13, 2011

    I agree the Common FIsheries Policy is a disaster. How did we get here though. I was not pleased to hear in a BBC radio 4 documentary last year that Ted Heath had had the CFP sprung on him at the last minute during EEC accession negotiations. The full extent of the policy and its negative effects on the UK fishing industry were kept hidden from the UK public for many years. For the BBC, notoriously biased in favour of all things European, to broadcast this means that even they must feel it’s a little out of order. Quite frankly, taken in conjunction with the idiocies of the CAP, the UK’s massive trade imbalance in favour of other EU members and our huge and ever-increasing net contributions to the EU budget I am amazed the UK population continues to be so placid. Our EU partners must be in a state of amazed delight over how much gross injustice the UK seem to be happy to stand to be allowed to be an EU member. After all, the people who really suffer from all this are the poorest, the people Polly Toynbee constantly hectors us as living in unacceptable ‘poverty’.

  8. electro-kevin
    May 13, 2011

    It’s a bit like the three bears coming downstairs to find Goldilocks eating the porridge.

    Instead of running away Goldilocks continues to eat the porridge whilst debating with the bears – who all put up very good arguments – her right to do it.

    The debate goes on and on but porridge gets eaten to the point that there’s no point in arguing about it anymore.

    This is a common EU tactic.

    Mr Redwood. Most of us gave up on the common fisheries policy years ago. Our harbours are now retirement areas and full of holiday lets – none of the residents would know how to trawl fish anyway.

    The EU has now moved on to devouring our banking system and raiding our coffers to prop up its currency – while we continue to argue about it.

    1. electro-kevin
      May 13, 2011

      “…while we continue to argue about it”

      Replace with:

      “…while our politicians continue to PRETEND to argue about it.”

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    May 13, 2011

    Please don’t confuse activity with achievement. Having “done its duty” the UK Parliament needs to see some action from the EU. Your own comments say that you “doubt whether they will come up with anything worthwhile” if, as I expect, that comment is seen to be correct you will have achieved precisely nothing.

  10. Martyn
    May 13, 2011

    I remember that it was a Conservative Prime Minister – Ted Heath – who was directly responsible for handing over UK waters to the EU. It was a deliberate act on his part, seemingly on the basis that our fishing industry and its communities were a small and unimportant price to pay for joining the EU.
    That led directly to the ruination of the UK fishing grounds, destruction of our fishing fleet, the addition of hundreds of officials to check on every surviving UK vessel to see if, horror of horrors, it had exceeded its miniscule quota of fish, followed by savage penal legal action with imposition of huge fines and sometimes confiscation of the vessel if it did. Worst of all was the acceptance of the insane policy of returning perfectly good fish dead to sea. I applaud your (and other MP) efforts to bring a return to sanity, albeit now far too late for the UK but, sadly, I doubt that the EU will ever take the slightest notice of what the UK Parliament says or does.

    1. Simon
      May 13, 2011

      Back then it was the fishing industry amongst other sacrificed for membership of the EU .

      Today it is the UK software industry and software developers and software engineers which have been sacrificed for the EU “Free Trade” agreement with India .

      Just waiting for Cable or another Govt minister to overdo it one lunchtime in the Commons bar and admit that “unemployment of British I.T. workers is a price well worth paying for access to the Indian financial services markets” .

    2. Michael McGrath
      May 13, 2011

      “I doubt that the EU will ever take the slightest notice of what the UK Parliament says or does.”

      You need only look at Daniel Hannan’s valiant efforts in the European Parliament and observe the indifference of other members while he is speaking to prove this point

  11. acorn
    May 13, 2011

    So forty years after our political masters fired off a legislative weapon that was poorly designed and lacked a decent guidance system, they get to discuss the recoil from that weapon. Unfortunately, there are thousands of similar legislative weapons fired at the masses, with similar recoil that is rarely felt by said politicos.

    But then they fired a legislative bunker buster into their own backyard; which recoiled straight back in their faces, within weeks of pulling the trigger. I give you “The Parliamentary Standards Act 2009”.

    “The motion will provide further impetus to IPSA to listen to Parliament. Everyone accepts that we must have an independent body that sets the overall levels of remuneration, but we still have a fantastically bureaucratic system that employs 70 staff and which costs upward of £6 million just to do the expenses of 650 people. It is an absurdly bureaucratic system that must be reviewed, not for our sake but for the sake of the taxpayer”. (Hansard: E Leigh MP).

    Did you see the bit “… impetus to IPSA to listen to Parliament”. That phrase must have IPSA quaking in its boots. Our MPs certainly know how to kick arse; not.

    JR said yesterday “These days politicians happily sign up to giving things to experts and others to do”. IPSA is a classic case of hundreds of similar Quangos that mire our economy. The beauty of IPSA is that it is a crab-fly buzzing around the rectal area of MPs.

    With a bit of luck, this just might give parliament a clue about the thousands of legislative crab flies they have released on the rest of our economy and liberty.

  12. norman
    May 13, 2011

    Congratulations to the British branch on managing to send a message to the Central Committe urging reform. It’s also good to see that our enlightened leaders on the Central Committe are going to consider this message.

    The fact that the British fishing industry is now a shell of it’s former self (I live in a small fishing community) and that by the time any reform does come it will be far too late (it already is too late) is a minor detail.

    Keep up the good work, comrades!

  13. Simon
    May 13, 2011

    Tuna stocks down 95% , some species on the endangered list so what do the EU do to the quota – double it .

  14. GJ Wyatt
    May 13, 2011

    The problem of overfishing is an example of what economists call the “tragedy of the commons” – open access to common resources will overexploit them, resulting in decline to the point that they are not worth any further effort. But the EU’s management by political and bureaucratic interference is not the answer to that inherent problem. Rather, perhaps surprisingly, it is to assign those resources to profit-maximising monopoly ownership, because it is in the interest of the monopolist to husband the resource optimally for present and future generations, which also maximises his present value. It is then a separate and easier issue as to how best to tax the excess profits derived from the grant of monopoly rights. The point is to correctly align individual incentives with the good of society, and this is a case where competition minimises the social value of the resource, an exception to the normal rule..

    1. norman
      May 13, 2011

      Exactly right. The pelagic fishing fleet proves this. There is a limited number of quotas (that change hands for obscene sums) and the fleet makes large amounts of money for the holders of these quotas but there is still a healthy pelagic population – assuming Iceland doesn’t plunder it in the coming years.

  15. David John Wilson
    May 13, 2011

    There seems to be no attempt to solve the problem of conservation of fish stocks other than by imposing various methods of controlling the catch. It needs to be recognised that what is caught in a net is fairly random and anything which is discarded usually dies.
    A completely new aproach is needed whereby areas of the sea are set aside to allow fish to breed and grow. This should not be small areas but at least 20% of the total area of the oceans. Once this has been done in a scientific manner which recognises the requirements of the various species then fishing quotas can be made much broader and related total volume of catch instead of specific species. Discards would then no longer be problem with controlled mesh sizes restricting the catch of undersized fish.

  16. Andrew Johnson
    May 13, 2011

    Well done. Good job. We are not the only country whose fishing industry has all but disappeared. Who knows this might just be the start of an EU member states “Spring” reform movement.
    Yes, I know. – Mrs Johnson says I am an incurable optimist.

  17. Bob
    May 13, 2011

    Smoke mirror, mirror smoke.

    It’s very simple, if you want the UK to regain it’s independence then you will need to vote for a party whose raison d’etre is UK independence.

    The Tories are very pro EU, despite all of their rhetoric.

  18. BobE
    May 13, 2011

    But tractor production has increased during this 5 year plan.

  19. Tim
    May 13, 2011

    There is only one solution “Give us a referendum to get out of the EU”. Then we can manage all of our own affairs. We neither want or need the EU. Full stop.

  20. Mike Stallard
    May 13, 2011

    Once Alex Salmond has his way, this won;t be our problem any more, will it.

    1. BobE
      May 13, 2011

      Mike, The Scots are members of the Union and as such cannot vote to become independant of it. A true vote would require all of the voters in the UK to vote to let Scotland leave the union. Its not just up to the Scottish people because they are not a colony of the Union but are a member of that Union.
      So I doubt Alex will be allowed a referendum.
      The only way would be a national referendum.

  21. Jon Burgess
    May 13, 2011

    Other respondents have already picked up on the pathetic description of Parliament having ‘done its duty’ – what utter spineless nonsense.

    TV chefs have done more in the last year than any elected representative to highlight the madness of discard and it will be the bad publicity from this that has directly led to the EU rethink.

    How about proposing the UK pulls out of the common fisheries policy altogether? Thought not.

    Why don’t you join a party that actually proposes to do something about leaving the EU, rather than bleat on whilst remaining an ignored rump of a pro EU coalition?

    Reply: I have often called for us to leave the CFP altogether. I also helped make it official Conservative policy for a bit, but the Coalition does not take that view. When will UKIP’s espousal of a pull out policy have any results?

    1. Jon Burgess
      May 15, 2011

      You know better than most that no government has had the guts to stand up and pull out of any significant part of EU policy since your party made us join the thing in the first place.

      The coalition doesn’t share your view of the EU. (I’m sure it’s not the only subject on which you don’t see eye to eye either.) The conservative party doesn’t share your view of the EU. The lib dems certainly don’t share your views on the EU. Her majesty’s opposition doesn’t share your view of the EU. But UKIP does. What if you and your similar minded colleagues left the conservatives and joined UKIP en masse? It might just be the start of something that leads to the creation of a new right wing movement that could challenge the left’s monopoly on power. Don’t underestimate the public support that this could attract. I can’t believe that you could willingly remain part of a party that no longer wants the same things as you.

      Or you could stay where you are and never see the things you really want come to pass. We will not leave the EU unless someone shows some gumption and takes charge of events rather than just reacting to them.

  22. Vanessa
    May 15, 2011

    I thought the EU had come up with one of its most crass stupid solutions to this problem – they BANNED discards. So fishermen are unable to land the illegal catch, they are now unable to throw them overboard so what do they do with them? EAT THEM?

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