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The CFP - the greatest scam in modern history

The Common Fisheries Policy - - an EU-driven strategy of victimisation that sees the rich get richer and the poor get poorer as Ireland is being denied rights to a fair share of the fish in its own waters

When it comes to the financial welfare of the European fishing industry, Ireland, with its vast resources, has become the ‘king maker’ of EU fishing companies while the Irish fishing industry themselves are being forced into poverty.

Despite the EU Commission’s mantra of claiming to operate a ‘level playing field’ when it comes to the governing of the European fishing industry, this has certainly not been the case for Ireland who continue to be forced to provide the wealthiest fishing resource in Europe to the EU fishing fleets while Irish fishermen and Irish seafood businesses are being pushed out of work due to unbalanced quotas that are a mere fraction of those that other nations are being awarded in Irish waters.

With European Union MEP elections coming in the next two weeks, the term CFP is being bandied about by many candidates as an election issue but how many of them actually understand it and understand what a twisted policy it really is?

Originally a part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) declared itself as being aimed to:

  • increase productivity

  • stabilise markets

  • provide a source of healthy food 

  • ensure reasonable prices for consumers.

Indeed it may have achieved these aims for many EU member states but Ireland is certainly not one of them.

As far back as 2011 the European Union's Maritime Affairs Commissioner Maria Damanaki promised a "level playing field" during the review of the CFP.

During a visit to Dublin to discuss reform of the policy with Irish stakeholders Damanaki openly admitted that Ireland had suffered under the current policy (as reported in The Irish Times), which had led to overfishing in Irish waters by other EU member states such as Spain.

The Commissioner said that better maritime planning and protection of "small-scale fisheries" were fundamental to the new CFP but she denied that Ireland's situation would worsen under the new reform proposals.

But all the reform actually did was legalise the previously admitted overfishing by other nations in Irish waters by, over time, increasing their quotas in Irish waters whilst decreasing Ireland’s share and far from protecting Ireland’s small scale fisheries, all sectors of Irish fishing including inshore, demersal and pelagic have now been pushed to the verge of bankruptcy as a result of the so-called ‘new’ CFP.

And yet, despite the promises, year after year Ireland’s share of the quota of fish in its own waters has continued to reduce - - and hugely so as a result of the EU/UK Brexit deal that saw Ireland suffer with a loss of up to 15% quota ‘payback’ to the UK whilst the most any other EU nation suffered in the deal was 6%.

This, said the EU Commission, was because Ireland was ‘closest to the resource in question’ (a term also known as ‘zonal attachment’) but when Ireland tries to use the same argument in a bid to defend its case for having a fair level of quota in its own waters then the EU Commission takes the exact opposite stance by claiming Irish waters are ‘shared EU waters’…. all of which makes a farce of the so-called ‘equal burden sharing’ that the Commission declared was how the Brexit deal was reached and how the ‘payback’ would be undertaken.

So lets be clear here - its a case of zonal attachment when someone (Ireland) had to foot the bill to the UK in the Brexit deal but its an EU ‘shared resource’ when it comes to allocating quotas to the EU fleet in Irish waters?

2013 CFP ‘reform’

The much-heralded ‘reform’ of the CFP in 2013 promised much but it was in fact one item in the small print that, once again, has seen Ireland the victim in yet more of its resources taken away as the Commission granted itself “the power to negotiate and conclude sustainable fisheries partnership agreements on behalf of the EU with certain non-EU partner countries” - - which actually transpired to be the Commission trading away tens of thousands of tonnes of blue whiting in Irish waters in return for access to a few hundred tonnes of arctic cod in Norwegian waters for some EU nations’ vessels - - vessels, it transpires, many of which are flagged in those EU member states but are actually owned by one or two companies in the Netherlands.

In its current existence the EU Commission states that the overall aim of CFP regulation is to ensure “that fishing and aquaculture activities contribute to long-term environmental, economic and social sustainability” and adds that “the CFP establishes rules for the management of fisheries, thus contributing to the conservation of marine biological resources, increased productivity, a fair standard of living for the fisheries sector, stable markets and the availability of food supplies at reasonable prices”.

Therefore the only thing the inclusion of this small print in the CFP reform did was to give the Commission even more power to deal away Irish-owned resources (without Ireland’s consent) with non-EU nations and that EU Member States other than Ireland are the only beneficiaries of these arrangements.

For Ireland’s fishing industry the words of the right to a “fair standard of living for the fisheries sector” screams out injustice as Ireland is the only EU Member State to have been forced into a fleet decommissioning scheme on more than three occasions in the past 30 years; will have financially lost the most in terms of quota value of any EU state (totalling €224 million by end of this year); and has to stand by and watch EU member states such as Belgium and Netherlands with far smaller land mass and area of waters be awarded far greater quotas within Irish waters than the Irish fleet are allocated.

Of course the situation has not been helped by the fact that successive Irish governments have refused to challenge the EU Commission on this situation and have seemed willing to bow down to the EU and sacrifice this island nation’s traditional right to make a living from its own waters and the right of citizens in Irish coastal communities to what the EU Commission says is “a fair standard of living for the fisheries sector”.

And, despite our current coalition Government trying to fool the Irish public by claiming that we’re going to see some kind of a victory with a ‘review’ of the CFP at some stage in the near future, the EU Commission has already clearly and openly stated that there will be NO reform as “there is no appetite for it amongst the other EU member states” (obviously not when they are all reaping a bonanza in Irish waters while Irish fishermen go broke) - - so either our government politicians and certain MEP candidates don’t know the difference between the words ‘review’ and ‘reform’, or they think the Irish public don’t have the brains to work out the difference themselves.

The Capitalist Fisheries Policy, the Corrupt Fisheries Policy, the Common Fiddle Policy, the Communist Fisheries Policy - - it has being described under many different titles but its clear that the only thing ‘common’ about the Common Fisheries Policy is that everyone wants Irish waters, the same waters that Ireland itself is being denied a fair share of.

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