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And so to fishing

Posted by Richard Friday, December 17, 2004

I know… boring. But actually, no it isn’t because even if you are not in the least bit interested in it, the issue – or at least the EU’s treatment of it – is the archetypal example of why the EU itself cannot work.

"But why now?" you groan – to which the answer is simple. Traditionally, the last council of the year is the fisheries council, this year set for 21-22 December. All the fisheries ministers, including those from the landlocked countries of Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg and Slovakia, gather together in Brussels to decide how many fish our fishermen can take from our waters.

Together with the ministers from the Mediterranean states of Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Greece – whose countries do not even operate the CFP in their own seas – will also agree the rules and regulations by which our fishermen will be bound.

They will come under pressure from countries like Spain and Portugal, who bring no resources to the table but will insist on their "share" of the maritime bounty that inhabits our water, and will devote a mere two days to considering extraordinarily complex and contentious proposals presented to them by Maltese commissioner, Joe Borg, who has been in the job less than a month.

When the ministers have finished their bit, it will be down to the commission to work out what has been agreed, to tie all the compromises and fudges together and draw up the detailed regulations which will then apply to our fishermen.

Having left it so late in the year, they have no chance of actually publishing these rules by 1 January but, this notwithstanding, they will come into force on that day when the fishermen will be expected to obey them sight unseen.

By past experience, they will get copies several weeks later and take several weeks to understand them, by which time the many flaws will be revealed, and the ministers will have to meet again in an attempt to clean up the mess, without admitting in the first place that they got it wrong.

Quite frankly, you could not even run a p**s-up in a brewery this way, much less a fisheries policy, yet there are still morons out there who say that the CFP "offers the best available framework for tackling the urgent problem of over-fishing in the EU’s waters." Their mantra, of course, is that there are too many fishermen chasing too few fish.

Our problem is that there are too many so-called policy makers and researchers for whom lobotomies would make no difference to their IQs, as there would be so little material to remove.