Monday, 7 May 2012

Sandys Takes Thanet Fishermen’s Concerns to Brussels

Laura Sandys MP visited the European Commission in Brussels on Friday to discuss the forthcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy at a meeting with senior official Andras Inotai.
After the visit Laura said: “I had a very productive meeting. It is imperative that we get the message across about our under 10m fleet that represents all our local fishermen.
“There is no common description of small fishermen across the EU – that makes for very difficult policy development if “small” means different things in every country.  There is also little coordination of the sorts of policies that small boats would benefit from.  I am keen to talk to fellow colleagues in the UK and see if we can arrange a pan-European small boat meeting and get support from the European Parliament to achieve this.
“However there are some real barriers here in the UK to getting the settlement that we need.  “Slipper skippers” – people who own quota but who never go fishing – is a UK phenomena and is not common across Europe. We need to find out what real rights they have to own a concession that is a national resource.
“The EU is committed to end discards and while there is strong political support in the UK there appears to be continuing technical barriers in the UK to making this a reality.  We must get to the bottom of these difficulties as discards really should be put behind us after the reform process is complete.
“There seemed to be some strong interest in using technical measures to manage fishing and the Commission is hoping for a fund to support fishermen to invest in the best gearing for their particular circumstance.
“However it is not going to be easy to get pan-European agreement on the reforms, there are many very different business models that need to be accommodated and conflicting interests.
“This has increased my commitment to make sure that the UK government fights for greater support for the under 10 fleet and ensures that there are no bureaucratic barriers to achieving no discards and greater effort control.”

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