Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Hugh's Fish Fight...

I tend to not watch much TV - usually too busy to watch things live so catch up via iplayer / 4OD and the like, but on occasions, I do pencil in some goggle box time for things I feel passionate about.

And this is why I spent 9-10 last night watching Hugh's Fish Fight on channel 4.

Even though I know about the EU fish allocation system and the 'discard' element, it was very, very hard watching indeed. The sheer amount of perfectly good fish thrown, dead, overboard from our fishing fleet was absolutely disgusting. The poor fishermen were understandably upset - seeing all that food (and money) wash back into the sea due to a ridiculous EU law is truly maddening.

The allocation system was created to help preserve fish stocks and ensure that over fishing does not take place. On the face? Well, sounds good. But whilst watching, it became brutally obvious that this system purely does not work. If anything, it will compound the issue it seeks to resolve.

How? Well, each species has a certain 'catch' allocation which fishermen are legally not allowed to go over, so, if you catch all your cod allocation in a couple of net castings then sorry, any other cod has to go back into the sea - it cannot be landed. But fishermen need to make money, so they continue to fish to fulfil their other species allocation to make a wage. If the next nets hold 90% cod and only 10% say, monkfish, guess what? Yep, the cod go back - dead. And the nets are cast again to try and catch more of the still vacant allocation species, usually with similar results. How can this be preserving fish stocks?

So what is the answer? Many fishermen suggested an allocation free system, where they are legally limited by the TIME they are out rather than the kg of each species. Whatever the answer is, Hugh's campaign needs our help to try and convince the Government to act to change this ludicrous system, so either click on the fishy film clip on the side, or visit and sign up.

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