EU Referendum

Fisheries policy: told you so


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Last February, the BBC and others were proclaiming the ban on discarding at sea as a great victory. Roger Harrabin, "environment analyst" for the BBC went so far as to say that it was "something of a victory for citizen power, following organised lobbying of MEPs by ordinary people, as well as by high-profile celebrity chefs and environmentalists".

As our readers know, we were less than impressed, with views on which we expanded back in May. And now, The Guardian is catching up, retailing an expect view that the discards ban was "no great victory" for fish stocks.

This is actually based on a paper in Fisheries Research, published online last month by a team from the University of East Anglia, and, even though the research on which the paper is based was funded by the taxpayer, via DEFRA, you will have to pay $35.95 if you want a copy of the work.

However, an abstract is available here, but the depressing thing is that it says nothing that we didn't know already, or couldn't have worked out. Then, why would moving from a system where non-quota fish are discarded at sea, to one where they are landed and then discarded, make any difference – apart from depriving seabirds of meals?

The thing is that this always was a propaganda move, doing nothing to address the fundamental defects of the CFP. It was introduced to enable the European Commission to claim that the policy had been "reformed", without achieving anything of substance.

But, as I was writing six months ago, the EU is able to survive because its propaganda is unchecked – the media does not have the wit to tell us what is really happening, or interpret what they see. And since most of the media fell for the scam, it has served its purpose. Discards have been "banned" and that is the end of the matter. One small article in the Guardian makes little difference.