Yesterday UKIP Leader and keen angler Nigel Farage MEP called for a total rethink in the EU's approach to recreational angling. There are over 800,000 recreational anglers in the UK and a new EU regulation will not only massively restrict their rights as fishermen, but also harm the local coastal and fishing economy.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg Nigel Farage commented: "What have we done with our declining bass stock? We put a total ban in place for anglers with, after July 1st, a derisory one fish limit per angler.
"What you've done is wholly disproportionate and frankly we're punishing anglers who didn't cause the problem."
"I hope that more than 800,000 UK sea anglers say damn the European Commission and vote for us to get back control and management of our own waters."
You can read Nigel's speech in full below:
Well tonight we are talking about the disastrous level of blue fin tuna stocks, quotas and commercial fishing methods. Not one person in this room has mentioned angling and I think our whole approach to fisheries simply is wrong. We have a quota system for most of our species which of course in mixed fisheries has meant decades of discards on a truly horrendous scale and whilst I, and everybody else, wants a proper, sustainable commercial sector we are massively underestimating the power of recreational sea angling to bring good, not just economically, but also the environment benefit of our stocks not being hammered in the same way.
You know in the United Kingdom, just anglers targeting bass alone brings in 200 million pounds a year to the UK economy, far more than the level of commercial landings. In America they have got this right, they recognised on the East Coast that the Strike Bass was an asset. After a complete moratorium they now primarily regard that stock as an angling resource which has led to massive boom in jobs, in boat building and really all those East Coast coastal communities benefiting massively. So what have we done with our declining bass stock? We put a total ban in place for anglers with, after July 1st, a derisory one fish limit per angler, whilst at the same time allowing the small commercial boats to use gill nets to catch 1.3 tons per month each.
What you've done is wholly disproportionate and frankly we're punishing anglers who didn't cause the problem. We did it through a regulation, that you a Maltese bureaucrat proposed, that was nodded through the Council of Ministers, not debated in the European Parliament Fisheries Committee, not debated or voted on here, certainly not voted on in the British parliament and will now turn ordinary people into criminals if they pursue their magna carta rights. And I hope that more than 800,000 UK sea anglers say dam the European Commission and vote for us to get back control and management of our own waters.
Nigel then took an intervention from Labour MEP Richard Corbett:
Farage as you know the CFP went through a major reform hailed even by Greenpeace as a good reform. At that time you were a member of the Fisheries Committee of this Parliament and I believe you attended in two and a half years just one or two meetings. At a time when all of these issues were at stake, when major battles were going on do you not think that any remarks you have about the CFP would have a little more credibility if you actually bothered to do your job and show up to the meetings that you were a member of?
To which Nigel responded:
Well nice try Mr Corbett, but clearly you weren't listening old son were you? If I had attended every single Fisheries Committee meeting for all the years I've been in this Parliament, I'm not a member any more, but even if I had there's nothing I could have done to help up to 800,000 people from our country who go out and target bass for their leisure activity.
"They provide jobs in coastal communities, they provide jobs in tackle shops and tackle manufacturers, they provide in many cases the real important back drop for harbours and communities and this ban was brought in without being debated in the Fisheries Committee; so not much point going there. Without being debated on or voted on in this Parliament, it was done by a regulation put forward by a Maltese bureaucrat we can't vote for or we can't remove. What I want Mr Corbett, is to have a proper, functioning democracy and then we can discuss how we manage UK stocks. Nice try, bad luck old son.