Ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss fishing quotas for 2009. The European Commission tabled proposals in November to cut quotas on cod, herring, haddock and whiting by 25 per cent (with a seven per cent increase in North Sea sole).
Struan Stevenson, Conservative spokesman for fisheries in the European Parliament, has commented:
"Fishermen dread this annual meeting. In a matter of hours, the fate of British fishermen could be sealed in a misguided effort to preserve stocks through micro-management from Brussels.
A decade of failed fisheries policies has only served to destroy thousands of jobs across the fishing industry, yet fish stocks continue to plummet.
The introduction of a kilowatt-day system – a highly complex method of linking engine power to the number of hours fished – on top of the other plethora of controls already in place will not provide the solution to our difficulties.
The best way for the EU to show it is serious about protecting fish stocks would be to ban fish discards immediately so that a million tonnes of fish is not thrown back into the sea. Discarding fish during a food crisis, just to appease Brussels desk-jockeys is morally unjust."
Mr Stevenson is right. But there is a bigger problem – and that is the whole concept of allowing our fishing practices to be dictated by a body other than the UK parliament.