Fishermen and environmentalists called for sustainable methods to be rewarded with a greater share of quotas as they launched an unlikely joint campaign in the South West.
Greenpeace has joined forces with the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association for the “Be A Fisherman’s Friend” campaign, which is targeting reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
It has cross-party political support from Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, Labour’s new shadow fisheries minister Tom Harris, and Cornish Lib-Dem MP Andrew George.
It is also being supported by Port Isaac-based sea shanty singers the Fisherman’s Friends and West Cornwall artist Kurt Jackson, who both recorded videos shown at the official campaign launch at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said the oceans were “vital life support systems” for the planet but were unable to “withstand the impact of what we are doing to them”.
Despite the fact that some fish stocks had reduced by 75 per cent in the last 60 years, and the size of fish falling in some cases by 50 per cent, Mr Sauven said smaller boats which fished in a sustainable way, were being “penalised”.
Even though the inshore fleet represented the vast majority of fishermen, they received just 4 per cent of fishing quotas.
Change was necessary, he stressed, to protect not just the environment, but the livelihoods of the fishermen and the communities they live in.
“We want to see a system which rewards low-impact fishermen, that rewards people who fish in a sustainable way and are protecting the environment,” Mr Sauven said.
“At the moment, the high- impact fishing industry is having too much say in what is being decided in the corridors of Whitehall and Brussels.”
He added: “With reform of the CFP we have a chance to make a difference and this is why this campaign is so important.”
Jerry Percy, chief executive of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, admitted there had been concerns about teaming up with Greenpeace. But he said both sides had spent “30 years throwing stones at each other”, which had got them nowhere.
Mr Percy said quotas had to “reward” those fishermen who “increased their sustainability and reduce their impact” and not be based on “historic rights”. They had wrongly become “commodities to be bought and sold”.
He said reform of the EU’s CFP – which is due later this year – represented the “last chance” for change for decades.
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