Plundering other people’s seas, while assuaging your conscience …

DCF 1.0Sounds like the nastiest possible combination of hypocrisy and exploitation?

That is because that is exactly what it is.   

I am describing, of course, the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and, in particular, the so-called ‘fisheries partnership agreements’. 

These are the agreements which are supposedly ‘freely’ negotiated by the European Union, under the terms of the Common Fisheries Policy with, generally, developing countries.  In fact, they are imposed by the EU elite against the real interests of local people – but with the connivance of the local political class whose pockets are often lined as a result.

What the EU does is to pay for an authorisation to fish in another country’s waters.  So, for instance, the EU Mauritius Fishing Partnership Agreement passed by the European Parliament earlier this year means the EU pays that country 660,000 Euros per year which supposedly allows 96 EU fishing boats to extract an annual total of 5,500 tonnes – in this case tuna.  The ships are also required to pay 35 Euros per tonne of tuna caught.

It all sounds very reasonable, open and transparent, making a useful contribution to the local economy of a developing country?

Please let me explain what is really happening. 

To grow their economy and improve the standard of living of its people, countries like Mauritius need to develop their entire industry along the supply chain.  

Mauritian fishing boats – much smaller then the EU interlopers – need to be catching Mauritian fish, landing it in that country and seeing it processed locally into a finished product for export.  Indigenous refrigeration, canning and processing industries – along with all their linked activities, including transport, communications and the supporting infrastructure can ONLY have a serious chance of developing in this way.  Thus, the developing country acquires a complete new sector, adds new jobs and grows economically.  Wealth is created. 

But the EU fisheries partnership agreements stop this from happening.

The EU is, effectively, paying a fee to ‘expropriate’ their fish.  This assuages the consciences of the EU elite while allowing the EU’s large, industrial ships to ‘hoover’ up quantities of fish which local boats could never catch.

Worse, these arrangements fail to take account of the resulting incentives for corruption and fraud.  

Do we really think the EU money helps ordinary people rather than disappearing into the pockets of corrupt local politicians?  Or that back-handers do not mean local officials turn a blind eye when more than the agreed number of EU boats turn up to take more than the stated annual tonnage?

The Mauritius report – which we in UKIP voted against – and similar reports, try to make much of the facts that, compared with the last time, the permitted tonnage is lowered a bit or the payment raised a bit.  But if the tonnage is a bureaucratic fiction and the money does not go to the people who need it, then surely this makes the existence of the agreement worse not better.  More money means more incentive for corruption.  Lower tonnage means more incentives for brown envelopes and blindness!

The longer term effects are even more damaging.  The efficiency of the EU’s large, sophisticated, ‘factory’ ships turns from a virtue into a vice.

No one really knows how much fish is being caught.  The seas are fished at levels which leave too few breeding stock.  Numbers fall.  It may not be the case on paper but it is the situation where it matters – at sea.

Mauritius is just one example.  There are many such agreements.  Thus, the EU plunders the developing world’s seas.

Subsidies from you the taxpayer are built into every stage of the process including ship construction, fuel costs, storage and decommissioning.

The total cost of the EU’s disastrous Common Fisheries Policy, the ‘CFP’, is over 4 billion Euros for the period 2007-2013 – all, as usual, at taxpayers’ expense.

All of which I hope helps to explain why we have to get out from both the CFP – and the EU which creates these damaging policies with their perverse incentives for bad behaviour.    


Tony Brown is co-editor of The Libertarian Press. He works for the EFD Group in the European Parliament.



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