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A Green Battle Worth Fighting


Brussels often seems to busy itself with matters silly and bizarre, but the European Commission may finally be taking action on a worthwhile goal: fixing the EU’s broken and destructive fisheries policy. European subsidies for fishermen have frequently found their ways into the pockets of those caught illegally depleting stocks to dangerous, unsustainable levels. The FT reports that the Commission is making changes:

The EU is the world’s biggest consumer of fish. Yet about two-thirds of its stocks are currently overfished, according to the commission. In the Mediterranean, the figure is more than 80 per cent.

European politicians have for years routinely ignored scientific advice while providing subsidies to underwrite ever-larger fleets.

The new rules will also attempt to end a disastrous practice known as “discarding,” in which fleets maximize their profits under the existing quota system by dumping already-caught fish at sea and bring only the most valuable back to port.

Europe’s fishermen, as might be expected, are livid about the new restrictions, but smarter management of fish stocks will bring environmental, economic and social benefits for years to come.

Closer to home, the New York Times reported today on another brewing fishing crisis down in Apalachicola Bay on the Florida panhandle. Heavy over-harvesting of oysters combined with poor water management by authorities along upstream rivers has put the entire local fishing industry in jeopardy:

“This bay would be filled with boats,” said Mr. Shiver, 36, whose father and grandfather plunged nets, set traps and dipped tongs into the water along this stretch of the Florida Panhandle. “There used to be oysters everywhere in here, and now there is none.”

This is what responsible environmental stewardship looks like, as opposed to the green unicorn hunts policymakers and politicians are drawn to all too often.

[Fishing boat and net image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Bill Henderson

    Yet another boondoggle by the Greens of the EU. Greens have framed this issue in the worst possible light in the hopes of pushing a particular maximalist policy agenda. Fish policy, like fish science, is complicated. If the alarmists are right, fish stocks will be hit especially hard by the effects of over-fishing. But other organisms consumed by fish stocks, such as phytoplankton and small fish, are going to enjoy less predation and flourish.

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