No, not that. Your fishing fleet… how big is your fishing fleet? No idea? It seems that European governments don’t know either. That’s quite a problem when size is at the heart of our overfishing problems.
I’ve just come back from a press conference in Brussels where the European Union and its member states were busted for not doing enough to reduce their oversized fleets. Not an easy task, of course, if you have no idea how big they are. This was one of the bottom line criticisms levelled at governments by The European Court of Auditors - a body that evaluates whether the EU and its member countries spend EU public funds effectively. This is its second damning report on fisheries in just four years, this time scrutinising whether and how governments spent your taxes to reduce the destructive power of their fishing fleets, as they have pledged to do.
The auditors did a great job pinpointing the problem – dodgy rules and governments spending billions have just made overfishing worse. We are talking about your taxes being spent to grow an already bloated fishing fleet that will leave our seas empty and fishermen without jobs.
The report finds that overcapacity continues to be one of the main reasons for the failure of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. Yet not one of the seven governments visited by the auditors had properly tried to match their fishing capacity to fishing opportunities, i.e. dwindling fish stocks.
No surprise there! EU fisheries management ranks amongst the worst in the world, with negative consequences for our planet and coastal communities far from Europe’s shores.
The next sorry tale from the EU’s fisheries policy storybook is due later this week with ministers expected to once again ignore scientific advice and set next year’s Atlantic and North Sea fishing quotas too high for fish to cope.
If ministers were serious about sustainability and future jobs in the sector, they would respect the science and put a stop to reckless overfishing. It’s time they showed us how big they really are.
If you live inside the EU, ask your fisheries minister to rise above the short-term interests of the fishing industry. Ask them to think long-term and ensure fish populations can recover for the environment and people's sake. If you live outside the European Union, make your voice heard too, this is everyone's fish we are talking about. Greenpeace is campaigning to stop overfishing in the EU and in other regions of the world. Find out how to get involved in your own country.