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Nick takes fish fight to Lib Dem Conference

March 9, 2011

Nick Perry, the Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Hastings & Rye, is to take the plight of local fishermen to his party’s Spring Conference once again.

This year, the action takes place in the wake of the Fish Fight campaign by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, who Nick contacted back in 2009, asking him to become involved in the local fleet’s battle against unfair quota allocation.

Fearnley Whittingstall’s television series focused on the disgusting waste of food as required by the current discards policy, and the European Commissioner responsible, Greek politician Maria Damanaki, appears to have taken notice, calling for an end to discards.

Nick’s attempts to bring the issue to the Liberal Democrat Conference also follows the launch of a campaign earlier this month by South East MEP Sharon Bowles: to keep the issue of domestic quota allocation on the national political agenda and to lobby for the ending of the pernicious practice of armchair fishing – where quota is rented out by big producer organisations to small boat fishermen who have not received adequate quota.

Nick says, “I was pleased to read in the Fish Fight Newsletter that Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has put down an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons about discards (although I was surprised that our own MP Amber Rudd has not signed it). It seems however that we need a complementary motion, highlighting the work that still needs to be done to rectify the UK Government approach to domestic quota allocation, and the need to end armchair fishing. Sharon’s campaign is right on the money. I am going to Sheffield this weekend to talk to as many Lib Dem MPs as I can, as part of the process of creating an additional cross-party EDM for all MPs to sign up to.”

The Lib Dem Spring Conference is being held in Sheffield, 11-13 March.

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One Comment
  1. Dear Nick

    I have been in contact with Chris Davies MEP who is taking part in the CFP reforms. I am an under 10 m fisherman in England and I am a victim of the current system. The MMO have recently bought court proceedings against me and others from my area for overfishing. Throughout the previous years I have written time and time again to MP’s and few have listened; while others told me to wait and my proposals have been ignored in favour of ‘scientists’ and beaurocrats who have no experience of the sea. 18 months later nothing had changed and I couldn’t pay my mortgage with the available quota. I chose to keep a roof over my family’s head, I only caught enough to do this and I did not hide any of it.

    I’m beginning to lose faith that this current system will change in favour of larger quota for <10s and am keen to get debate raised in House of Commons and bring to the attention of Nick Clegg and the Prime Minister. We're about to launch and e-petition to this end and would appreciate your support and any help/advice you can give me to help with this campaign. Somehow we need to get a National approach as there seems lots of activities relating to <10s in localities, but nationally we do not hear about each other’s fights – a joined up approach is needed as the MMO currently is dividing and conquering fishing communities. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    The current system, in the UK at least (reading the report on the failings of the CFP shows that the majority of the EU ignored regulations and continued as they were) that the law was implement to the full extent and more. The under 10m sector have been targeted by the MMO (it states within the report on the failings that the UK's efforts for FEAP were concentrated on this even though we have less than 1% of the target species quota), do they want us to join the UK's dole queue and put even more pressure on the public purse?

    All I want is for a fair quota system where individuals are ALLOWED to earn enough to pay their bills, that is all I ask. I don't want millions, just enough to pay the bills at this stage would be plenty. Yet I am being treated like a money laundering drug dealer. Myself and my family may lose everything except the clothes on our back because the current system favours the large organisations and those setting the quotas have never spent a day at sea in their lives and do not understand it. Fish migrating patterns are varied throughout the year and ability to travel into different areas is not something that most under 10 m boats have the capacity to do, nor do we want to as the current system with discards already damages the marine environment enough. Those who set the quotas should have knowledge of sea; it is a completely different world in some respects and requires more than just tests to understand it. Fish are like the birds of the ocean; they are not all in one place at one time and migrate about their world as birds do in the skies.

    One last point; the current system requires the majority of fishermen who are not academic to understand the legislation and details to the extent that the MMO do. Yet they require degree standard education to do this, how can they expect us to do this when we are fisherman because we cannot cope with beaurocracy and paperwork? (My daughter has written this letter for me as my written English is not brilliant, furthermore I struggle to understand the legislation on the industry that I am expected to and am rarely sent updates and struggle to get information out of the MMO when I ask, (yet their websites states that they aim to help fisherman through education and guidance!)).

    Overfishing may be a problem and yes stocks need to be protected but it should not be at the expense of hard working individuals just trying to do the minimum to get by in a very expensive world, but where the cost of fishing far outweighs the value of any caught fish at market. Fisherman should not be discrimated against because they are not academically intelligent and they should be able to exercise their human right to earn a living, and one that is enough to pay their bills.

    Please, please, please do all you can to save me and the other 3000+ under 10 m boats; to help keep our jobs and make the system fair.

    I have some ideas on how to do this and would be more than willing to share these with you if you wish to contact me.

    Best wishes and regards,

    Terry Stimpson
    10 Tudor Green, Clacton,Essex, CO15 2PD
    Mobile: 07811452127
    Home: 01255473626

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