Friday, December 29

EU has its own Serious Environmental Problem. (Killing Fish)

The EU is all big and demanding when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. After all, they have signed the Kyoto Protocol and the US has not. Never mind that many EU nations are failing to meet their Kyoto limits. As far as they are concerned, the EU is simply a better steward of the planet than the United States is.

Unless of course if your a fish.
EU ministers are meeting to set fishing quotas for 2007 amid renewed calls for a total ban on catching cod. The European Commission has recommended a 25% cut in cod and North Sea herring catches, lower plaice and sole quotas, and a six-month ban on anchovy fishing.

Scientists warned earlier this year that only a total ban on cod fishing would enable stocks to recover.

Environmentalists have urged ministers to listen to the warnings and "change course" on fisheries policies. - BBC
Here we have the EU, solely responsible for dealing with an internal environmental problem. There is nobody else to blame for failing to solving this problem. No need to deal with the UN or even to negotiate with the United States. So, this should be easy to solve.

Then again, there is going to be a harmed party, the fishermen, and they will fight to protect their livelihood, even if it may result in the long-term death of their industry.

However, European Commission spokeswoman Mireille Thom told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it was also important to consider the fishing industry.

"Obviously ending fishing... on cod would be most likely to give results, but we don't live in an ideal world," she said.

"We have a fishing industry in Europe and the EU is committed to ensuring the future of that industry and therefore the approach that has been chosen so far is a gradual approach, trying to balance the need to protect and rebuild the cod stocks and allow a degree of activity for the fishing fleet." - BBC

So in an ideal word, fishing would be stopped in order to allow all of the remaining fish an opportunity to breed and increase the population of the species back to a level that would permit sustainable fishing.

This would kill the fishing industry now, which is not acceptable to member EU States. In an ideal world, the fishermen would be compensated for their loss by some sort of payment or subsidy but this is the European Union, which would not give away money like that. (They need to save all the money for farm subsidies.) Instead, they will make some token gestures simply because the current situation requires that they do something and hope that their inaction will somehow be rewarded and prevent the death of the fishing industry, with the death of the fishing grounds.

So, what about that recommendation to cut cod fishing by 25%. How do you think that went over?

UK Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw has called the commission's recommendations for a 25% cut "drastic", adding that he did not believe any European states would support the proposal.

Ross Finnie, Scotland's fisheries minister, added: "We have trimmed back so much, you get to a point where if you go too far you simply plunge the fleet into a non-viable position." - BBC

Here you have scientists calling for a full ban on cod fishing and the Government suggesting a reduction of only 25% without even explaining how they got to that number or even if that reduction would result in saving the fisheries. No matter, as the Fisheries Minister declares that EU Governments would never accept a partial reduction despite the scientific evidence that a total ban is required.

So what was the end result? A joke:

An opportunity to spare the endangered cod was squandered by EU fisheries ministers yesterday after a tactical blunder by Joe Borg, the fisheries commissioner.

Instead of setting a zero quota for cod, as scientists urged because of the risk of stock collapse, fisheries ministers decided to cut North Sea cod catches by 14 per cent, from 23,205 tons to 19,957 tons, at their annual talks in Brussels.

The most heated part of the discussions were about restrictions on days at sea — which experts say are the most effective way of controlling fishing effort – for whitefish boats and the small-mesh prawn fleet which kills cod as a "by-catch".

Ministers were astonished to find when they got to Brussels that Mr Borg had concluded a side-deal with the Netherlands, allowing the Dutch beam-trawl fleet a reduction of only eight per cent in its days at sea. Other ministers promptly demanded the same concession for their fleets — whatever they catch. (Comment: Of course they did. I am surprised that they didn't give cod fishing fleets MORE time at sea, because it is now harder to catch cod.)

Ministers then agreed to cut the days at sea for the cod fleet by between seven and 10 per cent, rather than the 15 per cent that Britain and some other member states had been prepared for.

A source close to the discussions said: "We were gobsmacked when we realized Borg had offered the Dutch this deal. They are the worst on by-catch of other species and on killing undersized plaice." - Telegraph, UK

EU Governments are quick to quote scientists when it comes to global warming, but why do they turn their backs on scientists demanding action in their own backyard. What good is it to beat back global warming only to live on a planet with no fish? Even stranger is that there are great examples in the US of how properly managed fisheries can thrive. (See "fishery management us" - Google Search) Maybe the cod would benefit from a little global warming. If melting waters rise sea levels, then perhaps cod would have more area in which to hide.

Tax the Fish
One approach to protect the cod was not mentioned in any of the discussions. That would be to put a high tax on cod fish. Somewhat along the lines of how the EU is discussing the taxing of products to cover the true global warming 'cost' to the environment. How much would the demand for cod be if it cost the end consumer 13 British pounds/19 Euros/$25 dollars a pound.

Ministers haggle over fish quotas - BBC
Endangered cod falls victim to EU blunder -

No comments: