Is the tide turning?

A little disenchantment with the EU but no real criticism

Sustainable fishing?Sustainable fishing?
Old habits die hard and a lifetime habit of some sections of the MSM is to talk up the EU. In an ideal world the average person would get the facts from a news' source and make up their own mind. However, it's not like that. Honest reporting and unbiased reporting don't always come together. The EU has been a cause to support by both the BBC and the Guardian as well as a number of other subjects now broadly referred to as 'environmental', where hitherto these were simply common sense. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is now getting a second look due to its mad, bad and stupid discard policy. This is related to quotas for species, so fish from another species, although netted and on the deck of the trawler often have to be thrown back.

The bulk of journalists now working for the BBC and Guardian would be too young to remember the upset caused by Edward Heath giving up the UK's fishing grounds. So to them the EU has been nothing but good; I know of several graduates who while at university have been told that the EU has 'prevented wars'. I know of one who tried to suggest that NATO played a role here and was given a very hard time by the lecturer; but such distortion no longer seems shocking following the University of East Anglia's climate research malpractice. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that both the BBC and the Guardian have had stories about the CFP. The BBC on the 4th of November led off with a story -

Urgent change required over fishing policy - Scotland's seas are a "graveyard for the EU's attempt at management", an independent panel has claimed.

Scottish politicians have normally been content to let the EU have its head. This Scottish/EU love affair has been covered in a post dealing with the same Irish/EU condition HERE, as has its quest for independence. Therefore it's clear what's going on when we see a reference to Scotland's seas and a report that -

Has recommended a more regional approach to managing stocks, rather than having catches dictated by Brussels.

We also see that on 16 January 2011 the BBC has another go at this subject with -

'Fish discard issue 'over-simplified' - Scottish fishing industry leaders have warned that recent media coverage highlighting the problem of fish discards could over-simplify the issue.

At first this does look like fair reporting, but is it? For Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochead said the government's hands were tied by an "ineffective and broken CFP" (Common Fisheries Policy) which "failed to recognise the realities of mixed fisheries".

For what Lochead does not say is that Scotland should leave the EU, that would be far too radical. As we have reported before there can be no doubt some serious wooing of the Scots by the EU has taken place, what to do? Well never let it be said that Scottish politicians are not dreamers. For yet again they go for the 'big brother' solution -

The Scottish government is pressing the EU to move towards a "catch quota" system and is currently carrying out trials using CCTV to monitor the catch.

One can imagine the Spanish fishing fleet signing up to that! Thus we can appreciate the frustration of Chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, Bertie Armstrong, who -

Warned the proposed solutions were "defective or overly simple", at the moment all the Scottish government eggs are in the one basket - "the use of CCTV to limit fishing,"

You could even go so far as to say Armstrong was exceptionally diplomatic, the idea is bonkers, another big state solution.

But back to honest and unbiased reporting, what is frequently on offer is one, or both, dressed up a bit. This, we are told, is done with the best will in the world, in the interests of balance. It would be all well and good if this were so, but it's not. For equilibrium is not the aim, but redress. So rather than equilibrium, true balance, we get the managed swing of a pendulum. With the overall outcome tending to make it go one side and not the other. For, having spent so long talking up the EU it's hard to give up. Redress in this case cannot be possible as the idea of a truly independent Scotland as opposed to part of a political confederation does not enter the corporate mind of the BBC. All that is done is to 'environmentalise' the discard policy. Note also how this environmental problem is presented without a time-line, it's almost as if the BBC wants the viewer to imagine this is a discovery by the BBC and brought to general attention as 'news'. It is not, it's been going on for years. So a fail there for the BBC.

The Guardian only does a little better. Like the BBC its readers have grown old reading about the wonders of the EU. The approach the Guardian takes is to 'balance' their criticism of the discard policy by going for both the EU and the fishermen. Their reporter Callum Roberts says -

In my view, the 2012 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy must throw out landings quotas and introduce an outright ban on discards. But there is no point swapping one failed policy for another. Regulations must promote stock recovery, not encourage more rapid removal of fish. So a discard ban must go hand-in-hand either with a tough restriction on time spent fishing, or quotas on how much can be caught (as opposed to landed).

But again this misses the point, for the article also blames overfishing but without taking the point further. Few people seem to want to grasp the reality that overfishing is done by fishermen, there is no outside force that comes along and messes things up. We should cast our minds back to the Cod Wars of 1972. Iceland was intent on defending its sovereignty and rights to territorial waters around its coast. Now if there were such a thing as Scottish seas and Scotland was wholly responsible for their management then the ecological problems would be solved and fish stocks improved. But this will never happen with the shared resource approach so the very CFP is the problem and not, with more powers, the solution to the problem. The Guardian points out that -

Landings peaked in 1938, at 14 times more fish than we land today

Scotland like all EU regions fails to face up to the political reality of the EU; it's a very powerful and destructive drug that has ruined them, it's also very hard to give up. Abstinence in the form of independence is the only answer. As for the fishermen, they are not heroes but villains and their hold on any government is powerful. Very soon the fish stocks will be at a level that forces the fishing industry to close down, it's at that point ironically that the deep fried Mars bar starts looking good!

Footnote - More on Scottish independence HERE